Jannie du Plessis’ son ‘drowns in pool’ on World Cup winner’s birthday

Tributes have poured in following reports the one-year-old son of former South Africarugby star and 2007 Rugby World Cup-winner Jannie du Plessis tragically drowned on Tuesday.

It's understood the incident took place at the family home on Du Plessis' 39th birthday.

Former South Africa international Rudolf Straeuli—who now serves as chief executive of Du Plessis' current club, the Lions, confirmed the news to Sport24 : "We, as a Lions family, aren't doing well.

"I can confirm that this tragedy took place. We are all devastated."

Fellow Springboks alumnus Toks van der Linde was among the first to announce news of the accident and tweeted a photo of Du Plessis holding his late son while stood alongside his wife, Ronel.

The image was captioned: "Please pray for Jannie du Plessis and his family his son of 1 year old drown last night my hart (sic) is broken broken broken @SuperSportTV @kykNETtv #So so sad."

Straeuli later pleaded with the public to give the Du Plessis family space to mourn, with the circumstances surrounding his death having not been confirmed yet: "As I'm sure everyone can understand, Jannie and his family now need to be left alone to process this tragedy.

"We offer our full support to him and kindly request everyone to keep them in their thoughts and prayers."

It's believed Du Plessis has two other children, daughters named Rosalie and Hele.

The still-active veteran was a member of South Africa's Rugby World Cup-winning squad in 2007 when he, like younger brother Bismarck, was called up as injury cover.

The tighthead prop is a qualified doctor who earned his degree from the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein.

The eldest Du Plessis sibling was capped 70 times by his country after debuting in 2007, although he was an unused substitute in that year's Rugby World Cup final win over England.

One of his former clubs, the Sharks, mourned Du Plessis' loss on Twitter, writing: "The Sharks extend our deepest condolences to @JannieDup3, [his wife] Ronel and the entire Du Plessis family on the tragic loss of his young son. Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time."

Fans from the South African rugby community and beyond also shared their condolences following the news, as one fan replied to Van der Linde's tweet: "So so sorry to hear this terrible news. My families (sic) thoughts and prayers are with Jannie's family during these difficult times."

Both Du Plessis and brother Bismarck played for Jake White's Montpellier in recent years, and one French fan wrote: "It is a very bad news for this family condolences made from France to Jannie and his wife so sorry."

After spending four years in the Top 14 at the GGL Stadium, former Cheetahs and Sharks prop Du Plessis announced his homecoming in 2020 when he joined a third South African club, the Lions in Johannesburg.

The club has since joined up with the United Rugby Championship, where the 39-year-old stalwart has featured once this season, playing 40 minutes of a 13-9 defeat to Glasgow Warriors in October.

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