Stormers and Boland rugby player Robert Markram was killed in a car accident on the road between Kimberley and Barkly West in the Northern Cape early on Friday morning.
The former Springbok utility back was on his way back to Kimberley after visiting his parents at Kuruman. SARFU expressed its shock at the sad news on Friday and Rudy Joubert, coach of Markram's provincial side, said it was a big blow to South African rugby.
"It comes as a shock," said SARFU spokesperson Anthony Mackaiser. "It is always a sad day when we lose a rugby player in this way, especially a player with such promise as Robert Markram had.
"Our thoughts and condolences are with his immediate family and friends and we sympathise with them at this difficult time."
Markram joined the Boland Kavaliers this year after two seasons with Western Province, where his career was interrupted by injuries. The player was not considered for Boland's first Currie Cup game of the season on Saturday due to a shoulder injury sustained in a club game.
He also made a limited number of appearances for the Stormers in this year's Super 12 campaign.
Joubert said Markram was a "brilliant person" and that his death comes as a huge blow to the union. "He slotted in immediately after joining us. He was a very positive guy and a big asset. He always had a smile on his face...
"He had a lot of potential, but didn't play a lot of rugby over the last two seasons. I am sure that if he had stayed injury free he would have reached the same levels than the year when he became a Springbok."
The 25-year-old Markram was spotted by former Griquas and now Springbok assistant coach André Markgraaff playing in a club Sevens tournament in the Northern Cape and plucked from obscurity to become a star of Griquas' memorable 1998 season.
He scored 24 tries in the year (second only to teammate Lourens Venter in SA in 1998) as Griquas won the Vodacom Cup and finished top of the Currie Cup log.
The prodigiously talented youngster was then included in the Springbok tour party for the end of season tour of the UK & Ireland and used at fullback, wing and flyhalf (as a replacement) by coach Nick Mallett.
Markram joined Western Province and the Stormers at the start of the 1999 season but had his year immediately cut short by injury. Robert was also a talented indoor and outdoor cricketer and golfer. Cousin Bok Markram is a flanker for Griquas.
Markram's preferred position was flyhalf and he will be remembered for the hat-trick of tries he scored in the No 10 jersey against the Lions in the Currie Cup in 1998.
- Andrew Koopman