Young Ireland return home after flanker dies from heart failure

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The Independent Online

Ireland have withdrawn from the remainder of the IRB Under-19 World Championship in South Africa following the death of the flanker John McCall.

The 18-year-old passed away in hospital on Saturday after suffering heart failure 20 minutes into Ireland's game with New Zealand in Durban.

"The pathologist has confirmed that the cause of death was cardiac failure," a statement from the IRB said.

Dr Ismail Jakoet, the general manager of medical affairs at the South African RFU, said: "This does suggest that he died from sudden-death syndrome. I have not seen the full coroner's report but there was no signs of concussion or neck injury. This is one of those unfortunate cases that you just can't predict."

The IRB confirmed that Ireland have now decided to fly home early. "Following the tragic death of John McCall, the Irish management and team have taken the decision not to compete further in the championship," a statement said. "The IRB and the South African RFU fully support the decision and will be assisting the Irish management and team in any way during the coming days."

McCall, a nephew of former Irish international Brian McCall, captained Royal Armagh to victory in the Ulster Schools' Cup on St Patrick's Day, landing his Ireland Under-19 call-up on the back of his success.

The news of his death reached Dublin minutes before Ireland played Scotland in the Six Nations at Lansdowne Road on Saturday. The team were not told of the tragedy until after the match, which they won 37-16 to take the Triple Crown.