Michael Katzenellenbogen, a former Currie Cup and Test referee, has died in his sleep.
Katzenellenbogen, a qualified physiotherapist, was diagnosed with cerebral ataxia in 2017 and later confined to a wheelchair and unable to speak.
The 50-year-old officiated two Tests (2002, 2003) and more than 100 first-class matches at Vodacom Super Rugby, Currie Cup and Vodacom Cup level, until his retirement from refereeing in 2004.
He was the son of Deon Katzenellenbogen, a prominent referee in the Western Province in the 1960s and 1970s.
SA Rugby president Mark Alexander says he is saddened by Katzenellenbogen’s death and expressed his condolences to the extended Katzenellenbogen family.
‘Michael basically grew up wielding a whistle as his father, Deon, was also a top-level referee,’ Alexander said.
‘Referees are important members of the rugby family and we’re saddened to hear of Michael’s death at a very young age.
‘He always carried himself with dignity and was at the top of the refereeing game in South Africa. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and colleagues in this very sad time.’
Photo: Tertius Pickard/Gallo Images