Sydney: Former Wallabies lock Dan Vickerman was remembered as a "colossal" man who gave selflessly to rugby at an emotional public memorial in Sydney on Wednesday.
The South African-born forward died at home at the age of 37 last month, triggering mourning across the rugby world and shining the spotlight on the mental health of retired athletes.
Hundreds of fans, friends and former teammates gathered at the Sydney University Oval where Vickerman played club rugby through a career featuring 63 tests for the Wallabies and three World Cup campaigns.
"He was such a colossal man. His character was so true, his values so strong, his behaviour so authentic," former University team mate Chris Malone said in a eulogy.
"The only judgement was that he was an outstanding man.
"Most of you would not know how generous he was, how he would dedicate his precious time to helping his friends.
"If Dan said he was going to do something for you, he did. He was always there for you. And he bloody well made us laugh. He had this mischievous sense of humour that would make us laugh for hours."
Vickerman's wife and two young sons were at the memorial, along with Australia coach Michael Cheika, Australian Rugby Union boss Bill Pulver and dozens of former Wallabies.
Sydney University players wearing the club jerseys formed a guard of honour for the grieving family members, close friends and officials.
Vickerman hung up his boots in 2012, forced into retirement by a serious leg injury, and had forged a successful career in property investment and fund management while maintaining strong links to the game.
His sudden death at home earlier this month, with no suspicious circumstances reported by police, stunned the sports-mad nation.
Educated at Cambridge University during a mid-career break, Vickerman had recently taken a new job at a Melbourne-based fund manager.
He had seemed the perfect role model for players looking to manage the transition into life after sport.
He was appointed chairman of an Australian Rugby Union and players' association committee for player development last year.
But he had also confided with friends that he had struggled to leave the game behind.
"It's one of those ones where you think 'Could I have always done more?'," Stephen Hoiles, a former team mate of Vickerman's at Super Rugby club New South Wales Waratahs, said before the memorial.
"Vicks was probably the most qualified player we've seen to come through our system, so it just shows he was suffering from something that doesn't discriminate."