Schoolboy dies after rugby tackle

2013-01-23 10:30

Pietermaritzburg - A schoolboy rugby player from Newcastle High School has 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 on Tuesday.


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.

Decrease in injuries

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.


  • Sibusiso - 2013-01-23 10:39


      ruan.smith.14 - 2013-01-23 10:42

      Terrible shame!!

      CapeChappy - 2013-01-24 12:38

      I can't imagine what his family must be going through, what a sad day. To lose your kid at 17 years old (or any age) must be very tough. RIP.

  • ianon.ym - 2013-01-23 10:40

    Condolence to the Family - sad loss.

  • Jason - 2013-01-23 10:44

    As a huge rugby fan I say "RIP young man" tragic accident. But only an accident, nothing more.

  • neo.khemisi - 2013-01-23 11:17

    Died doing what he loves Most RIP boy......pls let's stop pointing fingers is an accident pls SA

      robin.bradley.9803 - 2013-01-23 15:01

      No one was pointing fingers...

      neo.khemisi - 2013-01-23 15:22

      Knowing commentators of this side Robin they try to find someone who they gonna put blame on and if read carefully you will hear them already

      neo.khemisi - 2013-01-23 15:23

      Knowing commentators of this side Robin they try to find someone who they gonna put blame on and if read carefully you will hear them already

  • richard.zanner - 2013-01-23 11:17

    And this is why my son will never play Rugby. There have been so many serious injuries at school level. RIP young man.

      willem.bouwer.58 - 2013-01-23 12:22

      And your son will most probably never drive in a car again as this may cause death and injury aswell... Even ballet can injure someone dude, haha

      Jason - 2013-01-23 12:59

      @Richard, you are not from here originally by your own admission on your profile. You life in one of the most violent countries in the world and you worry about your son playing rugby???? WOW dude!!! Sissies dont survive in Africa boet. And by stopping your son playing a team sport like rugby you are doing him no favors.

      john.kirkwood.9619 - 2013-01-23 13:09

      richard its an accident, if you prevent your son from playing he will miss out on the best team sport in the world, rip and condolences to your family.

      ruan.smith.14 - 2013-01-23 13:53

      More people die from falling out of their beds a year than playing rugby ever, are you going to stop him sleeping as well?

      malcolm.ekse - 2013-01-23 17:53

      Sorry Richard - you were on the receiving end of a lot of pretty senseless abuse. Rugby injuries at schoolboy level are getting more and more serious. It's a great team game but I don't blame people for wanting to stop their kids from playing especially when there are healthier alternatives. Many of my friends sustained injuries at school that ruled them out of other sports for the rest of their lives. Comparing the risk while driving to the risk of rugby is just stupid. Most people don't have a choice when they get in their cars. Its not as if there is any other way of getting to work. At least we have the option of choosing whatever sport we want to play.

      semonatenate - 2013-01-23 20:22

      Banyana-banyana needs a front liner. Tell your son to apply.

      petrus.ngwenya.3 - 2013-01-24 07:26

      I agree with Richard. You have to drive, you have to cross the road, but choosing to run into other people and falling on the ground is stupid. It is like choosing to disembowel yourself because the cool people in Japan did it once.

      richard.zanner - 2013-01-24 08:30

      I see that I have been pretty badly criticized for not wanting my son to play school Rugby. My secretary's son was a great young player with plenty potential but he died on the field during practice. Go look at the statistics of school injuries, it will frighten you. Professional players do net get hurts like this because they are fit, muscular and more importantly disciplined in the strategies to avoid these injuries. I understand the sentiments around Rugby as it is a great game and and part of our tradition but I will still not let my son play. @Jason, imply that I or my son is a sissy for this reason is simply stupid. My son has his junior black belt in karate and is only 14.

      hugh.olphart - 2013-01-24 10:15

      Richard, he is your boy, and don't let anyone detract from that. I love the game, and encourage all and sundry to play it. We don't have adequate coaching at school boy level, hence the injuries. There aren't that many accidents as you make out, but the loss of a child is inconceivable. My ward does athletics, and I tried to get him to play the game due to his speed, but my other half laid down the law in a big way. My ward has been spotted by a varsity coach, is going to SA's and wants to make a future of it. I cant fault that he didn't ever play rugby. My condolences to the parents for their loss.

      Hobohopkins - 2013-01-24 10:54

      Richard you are an idiot!!! Hope you dont take your son to school in a car because tens of thousands of people die each year in car accidents!!! Use your brain. Accidents happen!

      Hobohopkins - 2013-01-24 10:59

      You also dont just wake up one day and become a proffesional athlete. That take you have to at some point have played the game with no exp.

      gideon.walt - 2013-01-24 14:48

      The next Henry Hanibol, that boy could tackle!

  • ursula.thyssen - 2013-01-23 11:30

    A young life gone to soon.R.I.P young man..Condolences to the family...Terrible accident.

  • georgi.mcguire - 2013-01-23 11:34

    Condolences to the family and friends of this young man. Rest in peace young man.

  • elizabeth.bothma.58 - 2013-01-23 11:38

    My son was injured (thank God not seriously) in a spear tackle a couple of years ago, and the anguish I went through thinking he could be paralysed I never want to go through again. I cannot imagine what his family must be going through. Heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.

  • ulandi.potgieter - 2013-01-23 11:39

    R.I.P. Young man, You know I think some of the young boys go on the field with angry or take the game to seriously because it's a game not war.

  • carollynne.roos - 2013-01-23 11:40

    What a tragic accident. My prayers go out to his family and friends, and also to the player who made the tackle. May he be comforted by his team mates and the officials and made to understand that the tragedy was an accident.

  • hasani.malungana - 2013-01-23 11:43

    Shame; may his soul rest in peace

  • dtangocci - 2013-01-23 11:45

    Freak accidents are always so hard to come to terms with. RIP.

      nardus.jordaan - 2013-01-23 15:19

      Any dead is hard to come to terms with....

  • moi.carla.1980 - 2013-01-23 11:46

    RIP Bongukuhle

  • lulu.shezi - 2013-01-23 11:48

    oh no..this is my sad.. :(

  • enlightened.bowman - 2013-01-23 11:52

    Having ben shooled mostly overseas, I am not fuly up tospeed with the coaching skills requirement placed on the teachers. It concerns me that I have been told on numerous occaions that a teacher does not require any formal qualification to coqch school rugby in this country. Is this true? I am not making a statement but asking a question. if, however it is true, then it is just another disgrace to our country, regardless of how long it has been going on.

      linda.horsfield.77 - 2013-01-23 12:39

      What a ridiculous statement to make - and from your spelling it certainly looks like you were schooled in SA! What about some compassion and sympathy for a family that have suffered a tragic loss?

      john.silver.3572846 - 2013-01-23 12:51

      false - ALL rugby coaches in SA must be Boksmart accredited

      toni.k.mcquillen - 2013-01-23 13:52

      He wasn't making a statement he was asking a questions, poor spelling and all :)

      mike.bundy.73 - 2013-01-24 08:01

      Linda it was not a statement but a reasonable question. Such a hard-hitting contact sport should have qualified quidance in the formative years. The spelling is completely irrelevant and your comment is unneccessary. We all have compassion and sympathy but it is important to ask such questions to try to improve training and reduce further incidents like this.

      Tinabtlr - 2013-01-24 10:24

      enlightened. bowman: As a norm coaches at school should have a relevant university qualification in Sport Science and/or at least a coaching degree/diploma as well as sufficient qualifications in First Aid, but I know for a fact that not all schools always comply to the standards. And even if they do, accidents do happen. (A qualification paper is not a quarantee of total safety.)

      Jacques - 2013-01-25 12:25

      Linda, look at a qwerty keyboard, and you'll see that's not a spelling error, but a typo. It was a reasonable question he asked, but I guess the years of Bulls vs Stormers vs Sharks arguments has conditioned such petty responses to the point of being knee-jerk in some rugby fans. So let's all relax and have a conversation, no?

  • DuToitCoetzee - 2013-01-23 12:07

    RIP young man. What a pity to loose one of our young ones in the game we love so much. Condolence to the family. Our thoughts are with you.

  • The_Don_@_Nkandla - 2013-01-23 12:35

    Very sad news and my sympathy to his parents and rugby team and school mates. They must all be devastated. RIP

  • gladness - 2013-01-23 13:14

    Really sad.

  • tulani.tshaka - 2013-01-23 13:24

    these kids need to be tested, so many of them use steroids in high school level... RIP young Man

      robyn.hammond.33 - 2013-01-23 19:27


      VryKind - 2013-01-24 08:40

      @Robyn, you reply to quickly at Tulani. It's true!

      piet.motsoeneng - 2013-01-24 12:13

      Tulani,I am not attacking you I am just asking, what does steroids have to do with this accident?

  • tiaan.truter - 2013-01-23 13:30

    RIP !! Rugby is a hard game,and I know so people play just to try and tackle you as hard as possible.

  • toni.k.mcquillen - 2013-01-23 13:48

    R.I.P young man, and thoughts to the family.

  • leendert.stolk.3 - 2013-01-23 13:50

    The fact that Boksmart exists (to prevent fatalities!!!) says something about this 'sport'...

  • dorovan - 2013-01-23 15:29

    Sad - let's face it, it's an idiot sport

      pjthesecond.eldest - 2013-01-23 20:52

      Stop being an A$$ and think of those involved!

      deon.vanrooyen.9 - 2013-01-24 05:23

      You have got no clue what you are talking rather keep quiet if you don't have something good to so!!!

      diana.gill.18 - 2013-01-24 22:49

      Its amazing sport and you are an idiot after posting your little say.

  • msika.bopha.9 - 2013-01-23 15:30

    Rugby again?? Rest In Peace, and condolences to family and friends.

  • foxiloxi - 2013-01-23 15:35

    Shame man, that is so horrible:-( Poor Kid, RIP!

  • sias1 - 2013-01-23 16:29

    So sad, RIP young man and sincere condolences to the family, rugby is such a great sport, but being a contact sport, unfortunately not without risk.

  • jennifer.h.jordaan - 2013-01-23 16:47


  • pjthesecond.eldest - 2013-01-23 20:51

    Every sport has it's injuries. My heart goes out to the young man's family, friends, his school mates as well as the poor boy who tackled him and his parents and friends. This is just so sad. :(

  • taryn.wilhelm.5 - 2013-01-23 21:15

    Condolence to the family and the school.

  • angelo.dealbuquerque - 2013-01-23 21:17

    Question is School Rugby is becoming more Fatal than the past Ten years when we were at school...As unfortunate as it is I went to watch School Rugby last year and all I saw was thugs settling scores on the rugby field and trying to hurt each other in the most possible way .Gone are the days of proper competition. This can not be candy coated we need to root out this type of behaviour by facing it.

  • gert_swart - 2013-01-23 21:56

    Very sad! My condolences to the family.

  • diran.pillay - 2013-01-23 22:45

    Unfortunately especially in high school level rugby is an extremely dangerous sport. It takes one bad tackle! RIP to the young man

  • Notrax123 - 2013-01-23 23:07

    R.I.P Bright light.

  • Notrax123 - 2013-01-23 23:28

    My 10 yr old plays rugby, he loves his sport. I stopped him playing for a while after hearing coaches telling their players to tackle in a way to hurt their opponents - this at a school rugy open day.

  • Chris - 2013-01-24 06:29

    RIP , Condolences to family, friends, and my thoughts go out to the players.

  • lieliecooper - 2013-01-24 08:34

    that really sucks, shame. So young.

  • VryKind - 2013-01-24 08:39


  • andre.hauptfleisch.9 - 2013-01-24 09:34

    My heart felt condolences go out to his family. RIP It is always a very sad day when a young person looses their life !!

  • Starlight3 - 2013-01-24 09:55

    Eish! Poor kid! Sympathies to his family and his schoolmates!

  • mark.canthaylett - 2013-01-24 10:49

    Rugby has not been a gentlemans sport for very long.

  • carm2207 - 2013-01-24 10:55

    Very Sad! R.I.P.

  • fanie.essgee - 2013-01-24 11:44

    This is tragic, my heart goes out to family and friends..

  • cary.seach - 2013-01-24 12:52


  • jack.kukard - 2013-01-24 13:03

    R.I.P young man God Bless....

  • tu.centsworth.9 - 2013-01-24 13:26

    this is really terrible, condolences to his family.

  • Rimp - 2013-01-24 13:27

    There are about 430 000 rugby players in SA.( According to SA rugby there were 21 serious spinal/head injuries from 2006 - 2010 of which only a very small portion resulted in death or permanent disability.(

  • dave.ducker.3 - 2013-01-24 13:38

    RIP so sad to here of this, condolences to the family.

  • Modikoe.Elias.Ramongana - 2013-01-24 19:09

    No one is prepared to tell what kind of tackle killed the poor boy,or was he hit by a tikolosh? We talking about a soul that is lost

  • diana.gill.18 - 2013-01-24 22:47

    Makes me sad, i cannot imagine what family is going through.

  • sbu.vilakazi1 - 2013-01-25 11:02

    Rest in peace son. My sincere condolences to the family. Akwehlanga lungehlanga.