Tragedy as Bok and Bulls legend dies in car accident
NEWS: South African Rugby is in mourning following the tragic death of Springbok and Bulls loose forward Pedrie Wannenburg.
The Bok stalwart has died aged 41, the United Rugby Championship franchise the Bulls confirmed on Saturday.
According to news reports, Wannenburg has been killed in a horrific crash in Texas in the United States.
At the time of his death, Wannenburg was coaching the Austin Elite in the North American Major League Rugby competition.
Former Junior Springbok coach Eugene Eloff took to social media to express his shock.
“I am shattered. have no words. Just heard that my friend Pedrie Wannenburg passed away in a car accident. His family was in the car with him,” Eloff said in a Facebook post.
“Devastating news RIP wonderful man.
“You will be missed so much. My heart goes out to Evett and the kids. Keeping you in my heart and prayers.”
The Bulls also issued a statement in which they mourned the loss of the Loftus Versfeld legend and now late Springbok, Wannenburg.
Wannenburg, 41, was an instrumental member of the Bulls team between 2002 and 2010 where he amassed over 100 Super Rugby caps for the side.
The former loose forward had taken up coaching and was a mentor at Austin Elite in Texas at the time of his untimely death.
“The Bulls continue to pray for his son, who remains in a critical condition after being rushed to hospital,” the Bulls’ statement read.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Evette, his children, family, former teammates and friends.”
A moment of silence will be held in honour of Wannenburg ahead of the start of the United Rugby Championship match between the Bulls and Benetton at Loftus on Saturday.
Mark Alexander, President of SA Rugby, paid tribute to the versatile forward, saying: “Pedrie will be remembered as one of the first real versatile loose forwards who could play in any position in the back row and even though he played in only 20 Tests, his record in the colours of the Bulls, during a period where they dominated on all levels, is nearly unmatched.”
“After he finished his career in South Africa, he went on to make a big impact playing club rugby in Ireland, France and later the USA, and he started giving back to the game in a coaching capacity after he retired a few years ago.
“Pedrie was a fun-loving and hard-working man and someone who gave all he had on the pitch, but afterwards always had a smile on his face. He represented his country with aplomb – who will ever forget the try he scored in the narrow victory over the All Blacks in Rustenburg in 2006?”
“To lose someone at the cusp of the rest of his life with a young family, after a long and storied rugby career is extremely sad and our thoughts are with his wife, Evette, their two children, Isabelle and Francois, as well as his parents and other family members, loved ones and friends during this very difficult time.”
* (Article continues below with details of the accident ..)
The local news station in Houston KHOU-11 reported that his family was with him at the time of the accident.
Wannenburg’s wife Evette and their daughter were unhurt, but their son was undergoing surgery after being flown to the hospital.
The Khou.com website reported that Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said that there was a high-speed chase of a vehicle, where a suspected teenage driver had refused to pull over for police.
“The chase started at about 5:45 p.m. at Greenhouse Road and West Little York. Investigators said a deputy attempted to pull the teenagers over, for reasons unknown, but the driver sped off and led the deputy on a chase that reached speeds over 100 mph [160 kilometres-per-hour],” the online website stated.
“The chase ended near the intersection of Greenhouse Road and Kieth Harrow Boulevard. Deputies said the suspect crashed into the back of the father’s vehicle and went airborne. The suspect’s vehicle then crashed into a second vehicle with multiple people inside.
“The father and one of the children in his vehicle were flown to the hospital. The father was later pronounced dead.”
Wannenburg retired from playing in 2018 after an illustrious career with the Bulls, where he won multiple Super Rugby and Currie Cup titles between 2001 and 2010.
Wannenburg was just 21 years old when he made his Test debut in a 10-30 loss to France in 2002.
He played in 20 Test matches for the Springboks between 2002 and 2007, but narrowly missed out on selection in the victorious World Cup squad.
We are devastated at the passing of Vodacom Bulls legend Pedrie Wannenburg.
Our heartfelt condolences go out to the Wannenburg family 🕊 pic.twitter.com/ePecg3nSYU
— Official Blue Bulls (@BlueBullsRugby) April 23, 2022
Ulster Rugby is deeply saddened to learn of the sudden passing of former flanker, Pedrie Wannenburg following a car crash in Texas.
The Springbok played a major role in Ulster’s Heineken Cup and Pro12 campaigns, making 54 appearances for the Ulster men between 2010 and 2012. pic.twitter.com/dZyw0pC1dP
— Ulster Rugby (@UlsterRugby) April 23, 2022
Extremely sad news to wake up to this morning. Former team mate at Ulster, Pedrie Wannenburg, has tragically passed away in a car accident.
Pedrie was a legend of the game and one of the nicest guys you could ever meet. Thoughts are with his wife Evette and his young kids. #RIP
— Stephen Ferris (@StephenFerris6) April 23, 2022
Absolutely stunned! Had a conversation with him just the other day! R.I.P Pedrie Wannenburg 💔 pic.twitter.com/jTpVAQEPh7
— Jurie van vuuren™ (@Jurievanvuuren) April 23, 2022
So very sad to hear about the passing of Pedrie Wannenburg. R.I.P to one of the characters of the rugby world
— Xola Ntshinga (@Xola_Ntshinga) April 23, 2022