Former Canadian rugby international John Cannon has died at 35 of a suspected heart attack.

Cannon, of Abbotsford, B.C., passed away early Saturday, according to his father.

"It is with great regret and sadness that we notify our ARFC rugby community of the passing of our men's coach John Cannon," the Abbotford Rugby Football Club said in statement on Facebook.

Cannon, a hard-hitting centre, was a member of Canada's squad at the 2003 Rugby World Cup and won 31 caps for Canada between 2001 and 2007. He played professionally in England for Rotherham, Doncaster and Coventry.

"This comes as a massive shock," former Canadian fullback James Pritchard wrote on social media. "JC was one of the toughest players I've had the pleasure of playing with and against and was one of my closest friends when I first came into the Canadian setup back in 2003. He was taken way before his time and will be greatly missed. Canadian rugby has lost one of their finest. R.I.P JC."

Added Canadian winger DTV van der Merwe: "Sad to hear the passing of a @RugbyCanada legend John Cannon. What a beast he was on the field! Condolences to his family. RIP JC."