Paramedic Mark Roxburgh
Paramedic Mark Roxburgh holds up a placard saying ‘Goats on 3’, which was his former rugby club RAK Goat’s war cry. Image Credit: RAK Rugby’s Facebook page

Dubai: The local rugby community have united in grief after the passing of South African former RAK Goats player Mark Roxburgh, who was killed in Saturday’s helicopter crash in Ras Al Khaimah alongwith his three Emirati colleagues.

Flight paramedic Roxburgh, was killed along with pilots Hameed Mohammad Obaid Al Zaabi, Saqr Saeed Mohammad Abdullah Al Yamahi, and navigator Jasem Abdullah Ali Tunaji, after their Agusta 139 UAE National Search and Rescue Centre helicopter crashed into the side of Jebel Jais after hitting the world’s longest zipline while on a rescue mission.

RAK Rugby issued a statement on social media saying: “It is with great sadness that we report that Mark Roxburgh, a former RAK Goats player, tragically lost his life [on Saturday] while performing his duties as a helicopter paramedic. He leaves behind a young daughter and family in his native South Africa.

“RAK Rugby extends its sincerest condolences to his family and extended friends in RAK, as well as the families of the three Emirati crew. RIP Mark. Goats on three!” it added, in reference to the team’s war cry or rally to action — a phrase that also featured on a placard held up by Roxburgh while on board a helicopter in full flight gear in an image shared by the club along with their message.

Tributes followed the statement in the comments section of RAK Rugby’s Facebook page with teams such as Khobar, Dubai Lankans, Dubai Sharks and Abu Dhabi Harlequins all offering their condolences.

Roxburgh, who had lived in the region for eight years, starting his role at the UAE National Search and Rescue Centre in Abu Dhabi in 2015, described himself on Facebook as a ‘single dad’ adding ‘for as long as I can remember my dad taught me about self-sacrifice in the service of those in need.’

This is the second tragedy to befall the club in a space of a year after Nick Young died in hospital days after sustaining serious injuries following a tackle during the Sharjah 10s tournament in April.

Roxburgh’s sister Lindy-Lee Felix has told press in South Africa that her family have been overwhelmed by the messages of support following the accident.

“He was very easy to like and from what I’ve learnt only now from this horrible incident is how many people held him in such high favour and that has been very humbling to see how many people have been affected by him.

“I think the support we’ve received has been really phenomenal. I’m so grateful that there are those who shared some beautiful words with us, some beautiful memories with us, and I’m proud to say that I’m his sister.”