A former Lothians rugby star has died after his motorbike collided with a car in South Africa.
Armandt Pryor, who played in the back row for Haddington Rugby Football Club throughout last season, was killed instantly after a head-on smash on Sunday afternoon near Pretoria, a city in the northern part of Gauteng Province in South Africa.
The 23-year-old, who was expecting a baby with his partner Kylah back home in Pretoria, had arrived in Haddington last September to play rugby for the club’s seniors’ side, staying in the local area until his return home in March.
Today devastated friends and fellow rugby players from across East Lothian spoke of their “disbelief” at the tragedy and paid tribute to a “phenomenal sportsman and gentleman.”
Alex Cunningham, who plays in the hooker position for Haddington RFC and had been close friends with Armandt, said the incident had left him in a state of “such shock.”
The 19-year-old said: “He was an inspiration and very wise for his age. He had a kid on the way. He wasn’t like a normal 23-year-old – he was very wise and mature.
“He was like an older brother to me. He was an incredible person and made an impact on every life he touched in Haddington.
“I’ve only just moved up to the senior team so I only got to play with him a couple of times.”
In an emotional tribute posted on Facebook yesterday, he added: “Armandt Pryor passed away this afternoon in a motor biking accident. I cannot put into words our friendship – we spoke about everything and anything.
“There is only so much I can fit into a status as I am in such shock however my thoughts are with his family who I have spoken to today. I miss you boet.”
Alex’s dad Stewart Cunningham, a vice president of Haddington RFC, said Armandt had been a close friend to the whole family during his stay in East Lothian.
He added: “It’s absolutely awful. He was more or less living with us. He had a flat but he ate with us every night. He had every intention of coming back next year and was due to go out to New Zealand to play for a really good rugby side over there.
“He was a phenomenal player. He was in a different league from the rest of the other players – he was absolutely superb. He was just an absolute gentlemen – very polite and very intelligent.”
Armandt Pryor turned out for 15 games during his time with Haddington, having previously trained and played with the Shark’s under-19s squad in his native South Africa.
Haddington RFC posted on Facebook: “Haddington Rugby Club were deeply saddened to hear the news of the death of Armandt Pryor in his native South Africa.
“Armandt made a huge impression in his season here, and all involved with the club will miss him dearly.”