Six rugby players feared drowned at sea

The South African Rugby Union has sent its condolences to the Motherwell Rugby Club after one of its players drowned. Five of his teammates are missing at sea

“I have spoken to the president of Eastern Province Kings rugby union and members of the community and this is a devastating tragedy,” Saru president Oregan Hoskins said.

On Sunday the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) said it had rescued 15 of 21 people who had been swept out by rip currents earlier in the day. “Not all of them were rugby players,” said spokesman Craig Lambinon. Some of the 21 were members of the public.

The rescue team was alerted of the incident at around midday.

An extensive search had been launched to find the missing men.

Lambinon said three sea rescue craft, rescue rubber-ducks, a jet-ski, and a helicopter was utilised in the search. Lifeguards were also swimming to check for them. But by Sunday afternoon, there was no sign of the five.

On Monday, an air force helicopter joined the rescue team in the search for the five rugby players.

A police dive unit, dog unit and Bluewater Bay lifeguards had been searching since first light, National Sea Rescue Institute spokesman Craig Lambinon said.

The Motherwell Rugby Football Club members went missing in the bay on Sunday after being swept out to sea by rip-currents.

Lifeguards rescued 15 people in total.

One member of the rugby team was taken back to shore, but died on the scene.

The team had apparently taken to the water to cool down after a rugby practice.

Lambinon said of the 15 people rescued alive, none were required to go to hospital although some were treated for shock and near drowning symptoms on the beach by paramedics.

The deceased’s body has been handed to the Forensic Pathology Service.

Police have opened an inquest docket.

Hoskins said: “These young men were preparing to compete in a Saru Easter Tournament in Cape Town in a fortnight and were enjoying a carefree day on the beach with their team-mates.

“To have their afternoon turned into a day of tragedy is shocking for the whole rugby community and our thoughts and prayers go out to their families.”

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