Abbotsford rugby star John Cannon dead at 35

Former Team Canada player dead of apparent heart attack

Abbotsford's John Cannon wraps up an opponent during a rugby match overseas.

Abbotsford's John Cannon wraps up an opponent during a rugby match overseas.

One of the best rugby players to ever come out of Abbotsford has died at the age of 35.

John Cannon, who was named to the Abbotsford sports hall of fame in 2011 for his many achievements in the sport, died early on Saturday morning from a suspected heart attack.

The Abbotsford Rugby Football Club notified its members of the news with a Facebook post earlier today.

“It is with great regret and sadness that we notify our ARFC rugby community of the passing of our men’s coach John Cannon. Our sincere condolences go out to his family and friends in this difficult time.”

Cannon’s stellar rugby career began while playing for WJ Mouat, Abbotsford Senior and the Abbotsford Rugby Club. He went on to play for Canada’s Under 17 team on tours to England and Germany; Canada’s Under 19 team in France and Wales; and Canada’s Under 23 Pacific Pride Program.

He also played for Canada’s Senior National Team from 2001 to 2007 earning a total of 31 caps, competing in tournaments around the world. He also suited up for Canada in the 2003 Rugby World Cup in Australia, starting a game against the New Zealand All-Blacks in the tournament.

John’s professional rugby career began in 2001 playing for England’s Rotherham Rugby club then later for clubs in Coventry and Doncaster – all National Division One Clubs in the United Kingdom. In 2004 and 2005 John was named to the National Division One All-Star team and in 2006 was described by Rugby World Magazine as “perhaps the best centre outside the Premiership in England.”

His career came to an abrupt end in 2007. While attending a soccer game in England, he was the victim of an unprovoked mugging by a soccer hooligan. During the attack, he hit his head on a concrete curb, and was advised by brain specialists not to play rugby again.

Cannon returned to BC in 2009 and began a career as a financial planner. More recently, he rejoined ARFC as a coach. The funeral is expected to occur in Abbotsford later this month.

For more on this story, read Wednesday’s print edition of the Abbotsford News.