The one-year-old son of a rugby star has drowned in their family swimming pool.
Tragedy struck when Jannie du Plessis, who won 70 caps for South Africa, celebrated his 39th birthday yesterday.
Ex-South Africa international Rudolf Straeuli – who now serves as chief executive of du Plessis’ current club, the Lions – confirmed the sad news.
He told Sport24: “We, as a Lions family, aren’t doing well.
“I can confirm that this tragedy took place. We are all devastated.”
He later added: “As I’m sure everyone can understand, Jannie and his family now need to be left alone to process this tragedy.
“We offer our full support to him and kindly request everyone to keep them in their thoughts and prayers.”
Former player Toks van der Linde paid tribute to the youngster with a photo of du Plessis holding his late son alongside wife Ronel.
It was captioned: “Please pray for Jannie du Plessis and his family.
“His son of one year old drowned last night, my heart is broken broken broken. So so sad.”
And another of his former clubs, the Sharks, also publicly mourned the family’s loss.
A spokesperson said: “The Sharks extend our deepest condolences to Jannie, Ronel and the entire du Plessis family on the tragic loss of his young son.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time.”
du Plessis is believed to have two other children, daughters Rosalie and Hele.
He was part of the 2007 Rugby World Cup winning squad alongside younger brother Bismarck.