SYDNEY • Tributes from the world of rugby union have flowed for the former Australia player Dan Vickerman, who died in Sydney on Saturday night at the age of 37.
The South African-born lock, who played 63 Tests for the Wallabies until 2011, died at his family home in Sydney, leaving behind wife Sarah and two sons.
The authorities have yet to comment on the cause of death.
The former Brumbies and Waratahs player had been working in commercial real estate since calling time on his playing career in 2012 due to a persistent leg injury.
He remained involved in the game through his work for the Rugby Union Players' Association (Rupa).
"The rugby world is in shock today after news of the tragic passing of Dan Vickerman," Australian Rugby Union chief executive Bill Pulver said yesterday.
"Dan was an uncompromising competitor who forged a wonderful international rugby career despite a number of injury setbacks along the way.
"He was an enforcer on the field and a much-loved character off the field. He cared deeply about the game and the players, helping players transition into life after rugby in his role with Rupa following his retirement."
Former Wallaby Phil Waugh, a close friend and team-mate, said it was a terrible day for rugby in Australia.
"We all have huge admiration for the guy that he was," he said. "He's a guy that necessarily wasn't the loudest in the team, but had the most respect from everyone playing with him. There's so many positive memories of him on and off the field."
Springbok great Victor Matfield tweeted: "Waking up to sad news about Dan Vickerman this morning. Always enjoyed playing against him. A real competitor and a great guy."
Born in Cape Town, Vickerman moved to Australia and the Brumbies in the 2001 season.
The following year he made his Test debut in a 31-25 Wallabies victory over France in Sydney.
After playing in his second Rugby World Cup in 2007 in France, he quit international rugby for three years to study in England and earned a degree in land economics from Cambridge University.
The towering back-rower returned to Australia to continue his career with the Waratahs and Wallabies, earning a place in the 2011 Rugby World Cup squad.
Vickerman made his final Test appearance in the 6-20 semi-final loss to New Zealand in Auckland.
He was forced to retire in 2012 through persistent problems with stress fractures in his right leg.
After retiring, Vickerman worked in the real estate and development industry and was helping out at Sydney University Rugby club until last year.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN