DAVID TAIT, A former back-row forward with Sale, has died at the age of 25, the English Premiership side reported on Thursday.
Tait, whose rugby career was cut short by injury, is understood to have fallen from an apartment block in Hong Kong.
“The rugby community will be shattered by the passing of such a gifted and popular young man who was respected by everyone he played alongside,” Rugby Players’ Association chief executive Damian Hopley told the club’s website.
“He wasn’t simply a talented rugby player, he was also extremely bright and successful in his life outside of rugby.”
Tait, a corporate finance manager for a multinational firm, spent five years with Sale, who signed him as a teenager.
He was part of England’s training squad for the 2008-09 International Rugby Board world sevens series, but did not play. He later played for Scotland at the 2009 Dubai Sevens.
Hopley added: “We will do everything we can to help support David’s family and the players who played alongside him. His family and friends are in our thoughts and prayers.”
Premiership Rugby chief executive Mark McCafferty said: “At this desperately sad time words can hardly do justice to the way everyone involved with Aviva Premiership Rugby will feel about David’s passing.
Tait’s family issued a statement of their own which read: “The family is devastated and we would ask you to please respect our privacy.”
Shocked rugby stars and friends of Tait took to Twitter to pay tribute.
Harlequins and England player Danny Care tweeted: “Couldn’t believe the news y’day. Lost a good friend and an absolute legend of a bloke David Tait. RIP mate. Sending all my love to his family.”
Wasps’ James Haskell tweeted: “Very shocked to wake up to the news of former Sale player David Taits death. Very sad news. Top player and man.”
“Thoughts go out to his family and to the sale lads in such a bad time. £RIP”
Danny Cipriani described it as “devastating news!” and tweeted: “Horrible news about David Tait, he was a legend of a bloke and very talented. Thoughts with his family sending my love.”