The Australian rugby community is in mourning after news former Wallabies star Dan Vickerman died aged 37 in his family home on Saturday night.
The sportsman played for the Brumbies, NSW Waratahs and notched 63 Tests for the Wallabies in a 10-year international rugby career. The cause of his death is unknown and is not being treated as suspicious. He is survived by his wife and two children.
The 203cm athlete moved to Australia from South Africa aged 21, making his Super Rugby debut in 2001. The following year, Vickerman made his first Test appearance in a 31-25 Wallabies victory over France in Australia.
We are truly shocked and united in our despair.RUPA CEO Ross Xenos
His final Test appearance was the 2011 Rugby World Cup semi-final against New Zealand in Auckland. An injury forced him into retirement in 2012.
Australian Rugby Union (ARU) and the Rugby Union Players' Association (RUPA) have labelled his death as "tragic". ARU CEO Bill Pulver says the rugby world is in shock and deeply saddened by the news.
"Dan was an uncompromising competitor who forged a wonderful international rugby career despite a number of injury setbacks along the way," he said.
"He was an enforcer on the field and a much-loved character off the field. He cared deeply about the game and the players, helping players transition into life after rugby in his role with RUPA following his retirement."
RUPA CEO, Ross Xenos says Vickerman was universally respected by his peers.
"We are truly shocked and united in our despair. Since retiring, he was very generous in giving back to the game through coaching and voluntary roles supporting players' off-field development," he said.
"We encourage all players who are affected by today's terribly sad news to support and be there for each other and to contact RUPA if they would like to talk."
- Super Rugby: 85 games (Waratahs 53 and Brumbies 32)
- Internationals: 63 Tests (2002-11)
- World Cups: 3 (2003, 2007 and 2011)
Close friend and former teammate Phil Waugh told Fairfax Media it was a terrible day for rugby in Australia.
"Everyone's deeply shocked and saddened by it. It's just a terrible, terrible tragedy that has rocked everyone," he told Fairfax Media.
"He was one of those players when you're standing next to him in the change room and he's running out next to you, you had so much confidence. He's a guy that necessarily wasn't the loudest in the team, but had the most respect from everyone playing with him. There's so many positive memories of him on and off the field."
Matt Burke, a former Wallabies teammate, also told Fairfax Media he was very abrasive as a player but a good bloke.
"Great lad, great tourist, a very good player who came across from South Africa as a young bloke, played Waratahs, played Brumbies, played Wallabies. He could really play and was just one of the good lads that you enjoyed his company," he said.
The Australian and international rugby community have paid tribute to Vickerman on social media.
Waking up to sad news about Dan Vickerman this morning. Always enjoyed playing against him. A real competitor and a great guy.— Victor Matfield (@VictorMatfield) February 19, 2017
— Quade Cooper (@QuadeCooper) February 19, 2017
Words can't express my sadness #RIPbigV— Nathan Sharpe (@NathanSharpe5) February 19, 2017
Our thoughts and condolences go out to the family and friends, and all who knew Dan, at this difficult time. RIP Dan Vickerman.— Brumbies (@BrumbiesRugby) February 19, 2017
Rest in peace Dan Vickerman. Rugby has lost one great guy. https://t.co/FIyw6gF4jT— Aussie 7s (@Aussie7s) February 19, 2017
Incredibly saddened waking up to the news of Dan Vickerman. A true gentleman of the game. Thoughts are with his family.— Adam Ashley-Cooper (@AdamCoopy) February 19, 2017
Rest easy Vicks