The tragedy occurred just 10 days after he had captained and inspired Royal School Armagh, one of the smallest competing schools, to an Ulster Schools Senior cup title for the first time since 1977.
John McCall was known as 'captain fantastic' and the player who personified the school's grit and determination in that cup-winning year.
A measure of the reputation of the flanker/number 8 is that he was widely regarded as one of the outstanding young players in Irish schools rugby.
The consensus was that he had all the potential to progress and also be capped at senior international level.
As a result of his death, the Ireland Under-19 squad withdrew from the World Cup tournament following discussions with his family.
The International Rugby Board and the South African Rugby Football Union fully supported the decision to withdraw and in the following series of games a minute's silence was observed by all teams as a mark of respect.
Such was the outpouring of grief that his funeral service at the Mall Presbyterian Church in Armagh was attended by over 2,000.
So vast were the numbers of mourners wanting to pay their respects that the service was relayed to a neighbouring church and two church halls.
Irish rugby was left reeling by the tragic death of such a talented young player. His huge achievements in such a short life will long be respected and remembered.
The thoughts of the entire rugby family are with John's family, his former team-mates and friends.