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South African Rugby
Former Springbok shot dead in Cape Town
ESPNscrum Staff
November 13, 2011
Springbok Solomzi Tyibilika changes his shirt, South Africa training session, Brisbane Boys Grammar School, Brisbane, Australia, July 11, 2006
Tyibilika made eight appearances for the Springboks between 2004 and 2006 © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Solly Tyibilika
Teams: South Africa

The South African Rugby Union (SARU) has expressed its dismay at the death of former Springboks flanker Solly Tyibilika who was shot dead in a Cape Town bar on Sunday.

The 32-year-old, who won eight Test caps between 2004 and 2006, was the victim of a gunman who opened fire in a tavern in New Crossroads, wounding two men and killing Tyibilika whose identity was later confirmed to The Times newspaper.

"Solly was a trailblazer among black African Springboks and if the reports are correct, to lose him so suddenly and in this brutal manner is very distressing. The casual disregard for life in our society is shocking ," said Oregan Hoskins, president of SARU. "His emergence was a demonstration of what can be achieved when talent is combined with opportunity in what is always a very competitive position in Springbok rugby. I remember a very talented player and an immensely likable young man who rose far and fast to become a Springbok early in his career."

Tyibilika was born in Port Elizabeth and first played rugby ay Loyiso High School in the Zwide Township. He made his professional debut for Griquas in 2001 before moving on to the Lions and the Sharks. He made his Test debut in 2004 against Scotland in Edinburgh, earning the distinction of scoring a try on his first appearance to achieve the significant milestone in rugby history of becoming the first black African to score a Test try for the Springboks. He made his last Test appearance against New Zealand in Pretoria in 2006.

He moved to the Lions in 2007 but never settled in Johannesburg and re-emerged in his native Eastern Cape playing for Border between 2008 and 2010, captaining the Bulldogs from time to time. He had spent the 2011 season playing club rugby for Hamiltons in Cape Town. He made 158 first-class appearances in all, scoring 24 tries, for Griquas, Sharks, Lions and Border, including 16 appearances in Vodacom Super Rugby for the Sharks.

Local police have now launched a murder inquiry. "Two unidentified men entered a tavern in New Crossroads in Gugulethu," commented South African Police Services spokesperson Frederick van Wyk. "They randomly start shooting at the patrons, wounding two people, and fatally wounding a 30-year-old male. The wounded people were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. No arrests have been made yet. An attempted murder and a murder case has been opened for investigation."

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