Ireland’s Under-20 rugby team face a very emotional day after suffering two separate tragedies ahead of a crucial game against Fiji in the Rugby World Championship.
Last night one of the team’s stars, Jack Oliver, learned of the death of his father, Grieg Oliver, after he was killed in a horrific paragliding accident over Cape Town.
Olivier, 58, afelm scottish rugby international, is supposed to have drowned yesterday after being ‘bumped against the rocks’ following the freak accident which saw him plunging into choppy waves.
Six members of the U20 squad had attended St Michael’s College Dublin with Andrew and Max, both 18. The teenagers had just graduated from school before their tragic death.
Queuing for the national anthem ahead of this afternoon’s crucial game, grieving players stood arm in arm wearing black armbands on the pitch at the Danie Craven Stadium in South Africa.
The Ireland team stand for the national anthem wearing black bands in honor of Grieg Oliver and two Irish students, Andrew O’Donnell and Max Wall, at the Danie Craven Stadium in South Africa
Munster rugby coach and former Scotland international Greig Oliver, 58 (pictured), has died after a paragliding accident
Jack Oliver arrives at the Danie Craven Stadium in South Africa ahead of today’s U20 match between Ireland and Fiji. Jack learned that his father had been killed in a paragliding accident yesterday
Recent graduates Andrew O’Donnell (left) and classmate Max Wall (right), both 18 and from the same school, died in separate tragic incidents over the weekend
Speaking ahead of news of Oliver’s death, coach Richie Murphy said his team were “massively devastated” by the deaths of the two boys.
“I think the guys are definitely in shock, very devastated obviously by what happened,” he said.
“I think it’s across the whole team, obviously these guys know the young boys a lot better than some of the other members. Everyone is in the same kind of position where it’s the shock. We have our doctor on hand, he’s taking care of the guys.
Murphy continued: ‘We’ve had a number of conversations with a few of them and the guys were obviously very upset yesterday but are definitely feeling a bit better today and probably haven’t accepted it, but clarified what is going on in their heads.’
Captain Diarmuid Mangan added: “A lot of guys in our team would have known both boys.
“Everyone just tries to get around the guys and make sure they’re okay and taken care of. This is obviously a terrible tragedy and we offer our condolences to both families.
18-year-old student Andrew O’Donnell pictured with the family dog
Tributes have been paid to the two teenagers, Andrew O’Donnell and Max Wall, as “brilliant, athletic and academic” young men.
The two 18-year-olds were on holiday after the exam to celebrate the end of their secondary studies with dozens of classmates who have now returned home today after being ‘traumatised’.
O’Donnell is believed to have fallen and hit his head as he walked home along cliffs to his hotel in the early hours of Saturday morning after a night out in Hora, the capital of Ios.
O’Donnell’s body was found on Sunday morning and news of his death later that day caused his friend Wall to collapse in shock.
According to local media, the youngster had a history of heart problems.
The boys’ devastated parents have traveled to Greece to take their remains home, while their traumatized classmates return to Ireland via Bristol today.
A few hours later, Jack Oliver learned of the death of his father Grieg Oliver in a paragliding accident.
Oliver, who had been an elite performance officer at Irish rugby club Munster, was just 58. The proud father had traveled to South Africa to support his son Jack and the Ireland squad at the U20 Rugby World Championships.
During a tandem flight from Signal Hill overlooking South Africa’s Cape Town coast, two pilots collided mid-air over Sea Point Promenade, a popular tourist area.
Oliver is believed to have been a passenger on a tandem flight over the coast of Cape Town in South Africa when his craft crashed into another tandem paraglider. He played three times for Scotland in the 80s and 90s
Heartbreaking footage has emerged of Irish Under-20 rugby union player Jack Oliver preparing for a World Cup clash against Fiji today
The view of paragliders taking off from Lions Head and Signal Hill of Camps Bay below and the Twelve Apostles mountain range
Rescue swimmers and paramedics at Rocklands Beach, Cape Town, who had recovered the body of former Scotland scrum-half Greig Oliver, 58.
Oliver’s pilot deployed a reserve parachute and landed safely in the sea, but Greig could not recover from the accident and landed near the coast.
An eyewitness told MailOnline: “I saw a paraglider over water deploy its second parachute about 50 meters up and 50 meters out.
“The two people fell into the water and we all ran towards the wall. The waves were big and both guys were getting bumped into the rocks.
South African Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (SAHPA) president Louis Stanford said Greig’s death represents the first tandem death in the country in more than two decades.
“Normally, these tandem operations are performed safely within a strict set of parameters. It is a very sad accident and the Civil Aviation Authority will investigate.
After the double drama for the Irish team, a minute’s silence took place ahead of their match against Fiji at the Dannie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch, and will take place for all other matches in the Championship this afternoon.
Jack Oliver was due to start training the bench this afternoon but has now been dropped from the squad.