SA Rugby paid tribute to two members of the South African rugby community who both lost their lives on Monday, Paul Dobson and Kaunda Ntunja.
The 38-year-old Ntunja, a former SA U19 and provincial looseforward who was on SuperSport’s commentary team and was known for his passion when calling games in his native Xhosa, passed away on Monday morning.
Dobson, 84, passed away on Monday afternoon after a short illness – he was well-known around the world after spending much of his life devoted to the game, first as a referee, and later as an author and historian.
“We are deeply saddened at the loss of one of our most-beloved rugby sons, Kaunda Ntunja,” said Mr Mark Alexander, President of SA Rugby.
“He was a true rugby pioneer – the first black African SA Schools captain, a Currie Cup winner and a groundbreaking SuperSport commentator.
“Kaunda left an indelible mark on the local rugby landscape and we will miss seeing his broad smile and hearing his voice at our rugby matches in future – this is a tragic loss, he left us too soon.
“Our thoughts are with his wife and daughter, the rest of the Ntunja family, all of his friends and colleagues for this terrible loss – the South African rugby community is much poorer without Kaunda Ntunja.”
Dobson, whose son John is head coach of the DHL Stormers, was involved in rugby for most of his life.
Mr Alexander said: “We mourn the passing of a great man of South African rugby; referee, author, historian, mentor, friend to all, Paul Dobson, a legend in the global refereeing community.
“Paul was recognised for his services to the game by World Rugby in 2012 and was the fount of all knowledge on SA Rugby history in all communities.
“Rugby has lost a giant.
“Paul’s contribution to the game was extraordinary, and he never lost his passion for it, or his joy in its small and great moments, its past legends and its modern heroes. Rugby is much poorer today and our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, children, other family, friends and collegues in this very sad time.”
Earlier in July, former SA Rugby Board Chairman, Dr Theunie Lategan, also sadly passed away.
“He affected many lives in a positive way and leaves wonderful legacy. He was larger than life and lived life to the fullest,” said Mr Alexander.
“Dr Lategan came from a famous rugby family – his father, Tjol, was a Springbok – and he had a real passion for the game that brought him into our administration structures for a time. It’s a real shock to think we won’t see him at matches in the future – he will be truly, truly missed.”