Six rugby players feared drowned in South Africa


Cape Town

The South African rugby fraternity is in mourning today after one player was confirmed dead and hopes faded for five of his team mates, who were also feared to have drowned after being caught in rip current on a beach near Port Elizabeth.

Motherwell Rugby Football Club manager Mncedisi Mazomba appealled to British rugby fans ''to make something good come from this''. Mr Mazomba said: ''We are an amateur club and we play on an open field. Nothing can replace our players but we have heard we have a namesake club in Scotland. Maybe their hearts will be touched.''

Seventeen Motherwell players were among 21 people who were swept to sea from Bluewater Bay beach yesterday, sparking a sea rescue operation that is still under way tonight.

Lifeguards picked up 15 people immediately. The volunteer National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) said one Motherwell player died after being brought to shore.

NSRI spokesman Craig Lambinon said: ''An air force helicopter with two swimmers joined a police dive unit and Bluewater Bay rescuers at first light on Monday. At this stage we hope to recover bodies but there is no guarantee.''

Rip currents are a phenomenon whereby the sea turns back on itself when the shoreline cannot cushion the waves. Powerful channels of water flowing seaward can carry swimmers with them at a rate of up to 2 metres per second.

One of the lifesavers involved in the rescue yesterday said it was ''incredibly traumatic''. Brendon Helm told Die Burger newspaper: “It is something I will always remember. Only eight of us and 21 desperate people with wide open eyes begging to come out.”

Mr Helm said the players had been jogging on the beach and had only been in the water for about 10 minutes. “Everything was peaceful, the sea was calm and they were up to their chests in the water. The next moment we just saw arms and hands in the air.''

Before yesterday's tragedy, the Eastern Cape had seen six drownings this month - an unusually high number. But tourism officials said Bluewater bay was considered one of Port Elizabeth's safest beaches.

The South African Rugby Union (SARU) sent its condolensces to the club, which is 20 years old and based in a township on a hill above Port Elizabeth. "These young men were preparing to compete in a SARU Easter tournament in Cape Town in a fortnight and were enjoying a carefree day on the beach," said SARU president Oregan Hoskins.

Mr Mazomba said the dead men would be named only after the search has been called off. He said most of the team's players were unemployed men in their 20s and some students in their late teens.

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments