Pupil dies after rugby tackle

2013-01-23 00:00

A SCHOOLBOY rugby player from Newcastle High School died after sustaining a suspected neck injury during trials.

Bongukuhle Langa (17), a Grade 11 pupil, died on the rugby field on Monday.

School principal Manny Govender would not comment on the incident.

“You will have to speak to the Education Department. They’ve asked me to direct all calls for comment to their office,” he said yesterday.

Department spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi said they were upset by the incident.

“No parent prepares a child and their sport kit with the possibility that they might not come back.

“We always encourage children to participate in sport. We always want children to be active. What happened is very unfortunate,” he said.

Mahlambi said a detailed statement would be made once the department had a full report.

On the school’s Facebook page, one person posted: “He was the only person at NHS that always managed to put a smile on your face with his crazy laugh and hilarious practical jokes. He was such a bundle of joy. May your soul rest well in the hands of the lord. You will forever be in our hearts, Bongoh the poet.”

Dave van der Westhuizen, chairperson of Northern KZN High Schools Rugby, said he had spoken to the teacher who was officiating at the match, who told him that Bongukuhle landed awkwardly on his neck.

“According to him, it was a tackle that went bad and the player landed awkwardly on his neck.

“I tried to speak to the other players last night, directly after the incident, but they were too traumatised and shocked by the incident,” he said.

“I reported the matter to the KZN Rugby Union and Boksmart, which strives to prevent fatal injuries in rugby.”

Alan O’Connell, Boksmart’s representative for the KZN Rugby Union, said he was aware of the incident, but would only comment once he had met officials of the Northern KZN Rugby Union.

Professor Tim Noakes, of the Sport Science Institute of South Africa, said he had also heard of Bongukuhle’s death.

He said the prevalence of this type of injury had decreased in recent years.

“The Chris Burger/Petro Jackson Players’ Fund told me that last year was a good year. There have been great strides made with this sort of injury,” said Noakes.

He said that in the “peak years” of the 1970s, 80s and 90s, about 20 rugby players a year sustained neck injuries.

“In recent years, it’s come down to five or six a year.

“The management of injured players has also improved,” he added.

Police spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker said an inquest docket had been opened.

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