Tragedy as Wallabies lock Vickerman dies

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Australian rugby community has been rocked by the sudden passing 63-Test lock Dan Vickerman, at just 37.

South-African born Vickerman, who last played for the Wallabies at the 2011 Rugby World Cup, was found in his family home overnight, with friends and the rugby community reeling from the shocking news on Sunday. 

His final season was a remarkable comeback in itself, with Vickerman returning to the Test fold after a three-year break from rugby, where he studied at Cambridge University and played for their varsity side.

The 2011 comeback handed him his third World Cup opportunity, a decade after his 2001 Super Rugby debut for the Brumbies, where he spent three seasons before moving to the Waratahs.

Phil Waugh, Benn Robinson and Dan Vickerman were Waratahs and Wallabies teammates. Photo: Getty ImagesFormer Wallabies backrower Phil Waugh, who played with Vickerman at club, state and Test level, said his teammates were still coming to terms with Sunday's tragic news.

"We’re all devastated about our good friend and teammate, Vicks," he said.

“I think I speak on behalf of all players in saying that our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Sarah and the boys. - Phil Waugh

"Out of respect to them, we’d prefer not to say too much more except that we are thinking of them and his family at this difficult time and he will always be in our hearts.” 

Vickerman was still an active part of the rugby community, part of RUPA's National Player Development Program, helping others transition into post-retirement life, as well as being on the committee of the Sydney University Rugby Players and Stalwarts Society.

"On behalf of all players, we extend our deepest sympathies to Dan’s young family at this difficult time. We are truly shocked and united in our despair," RUPA CEO Ross Xenos said.

Dan Vickerman was a popular player among teammates and opponents. Photo: Getty Images"Dan was universally respected by his peers and the rugby community during and beyond his playing days. Since retiring, he was very generous in giving back to the game through coaching and voluntary roles supporting players’ off-field development. 

"We encourage all players, present and past, to support and be there for each other and to contact RUPA if anyone needs to talk."

He was a regular presence in the rugby media, appearing on FOX Sports in recent months, after his retirement.

ARU CEO Bill Pulver extended the sympathies of the national rugby community to Vickerman's family.

"The rugby world is in shock today after news of the tragic passing of Dan Vickerman," he said.

"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. - Bill Pulver

"He cared deeply about the game and the players, helping players transition into life after rugby in his role with RUPA following his retirement.

Dan Vickerman made his Super Rugby debut for the Brumbies. Photo: Getty Images"Our thoughts and prayers are with Dan's family at this extremely difficult time."

At the time of his retirement, then-Wallabies coach Robbie Deans spoke of the respect Vickerman commanded during his rugby career.

“As a player, Dan is an uncompromising competitor who sets high standards for himself, and demands the same of those around him,” he said

“He commands enormous respect, from teammates and opponents alike, which says a lot about the man."

Vickerman is survived by wife, Sarah and his two sons.

The Rugby world mourns the loss of one of the Wallabies greatest ever lock forwards.