Greig Oliver: authorities investigate paragliding collision that led to death of Munster coach

Former Scottish international was in Cape Town supporting his son Jack in the Irish under-20 squad

An investigation is underway into the circumstances that led to the death of Munster Rugby coaching official Greig Oliver, who was a passenger in a fatal paragliding collision in Cape Town on Monday afternoon.

According to the South African Hang-gliding and Paragliding Association (SAHPA), which has been gathering evidence and witness reports, Mr Oliver is believed to have drowned after two tandem pilots had a mid-air collision over the scenic Seapoint promenade, on Cape Town’s Atlantic seaboard.

Mr Oliver (58), a former Scotland international, was in Cape Town supporting his son, Jack, who is a member of the Irish underage squad competing in the Under-20 World Championship.

Mr Oliver was said to have been on an excursion with the parents of other members of the under-20 squad at the time of the accident. The Irish team plays Fiji on Tuesday.


The SAHPA said in statement released on Tuesday that after the mid-air collision one of the pilots deployed his parachute reserve and landed in the breaking waves with his passenger, rather than on rocks, which was how the accident was initially reported.

“It is believed that the passenger subsequently drowned, and the pilot was treated for minor injuries. Several pilots also assisted with the rescue and were treated for injuries afterwards,” the statement said.

The SAHPA has handed the incident over to the South African Civil Aviation Authority’s Accident and Incident Investigations Division for further investigation. The accident is also subject to a police and coroner’s investigation.

Paragliding is a popular sport in Cape Town, and when the weather allows for it, several of the operators offer people the opportunity to fly tandem with a pilot from Lions Head or Signal Hill mountain down to Seapoint, where there is a landing spot next to the promenade.

However, the sport has a chequered history in the Western Cape’s provincial capital, and has claimed several lives in recent years.

On January 11th this year a 47-year-old German national, who was said to be an experienced solo recreational pilot, died during a paragliding accident on Lion’s Head. In 2021 a young male speed pilot also died from his injuries after crashing into Lion’s Head, while another paraglider died in the same area in 2020.

Nevertheless, SAHPA spokesperson Louis Stanford said that paragliding is well-regulated in South Africa and safety is always a primary consideration.

“As this matter has been referred for further investigation, we cannot speculate on this accident,” he said.

Bill Corcoran

Bill Corcoran

Bill Corcoran is a contributor to The Irish Times based in South Africa