Rugby 2022: Samoan rugby star Kelly Meafua died aged 31 leaping off bridge in France, tributes

Former Waratahs ahead Kelly Meafua has died hours after his facet’s victory within the French second division on Friday.

Former Waratahs ahead Kelly Meafua has died after leaping from a bridge into the river Tarn in France throughout a night of festivities, his membership Montauban confirmed on Saturday.

The 31-year-old Samoan athlete had performed in his facet’s 48-40 win over Narbonne within the French second division on Friday earlier than the tragedy occurred that night.

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According to a number of testimonies, Meafua had been celebrating Montauban’s final dwelling sport of the season along with his teammates earlier than he was seen leaping from the Pont-Vieux, a top of twenty-two metres.

One of his teammates, prop Christopher Vaotoa, jumped into the water to assist him.

Rescued by firefighters, Vaotoa was taken to hospital with hypothermia earlier than Meafua’s physique was discovered early Saturday morning.

“USM Sapiac painfully announces the death of Kelly Meafua on the night of Friday to Saturday. One of his teammates tried to rescue him, without success,” the membership stated in an announcement.

“Transported to the hospital for hypothermia, he was released this morning in good health. All training is suspended until further notice.

“The entire USM Sapiac club is shocked by this tragedy, and has a thought for his wife, his children, his teammates, and more generally, all club lovers. Kelly was a player very appreciated by all, his joie de vivre was infectious and radiant.

“Today we lost a player, a friend, a brother.”

After shifting to Sydney, Meafua performed for West Harbour within the Shute Shield and the Greater Sydney Rams within the National Rugby Championship.

He additionally represented the Waratahs within the Global Tens event in 2018, however by no means performed a Super Rugby sport for the NSW membership.

Meafua performed Sevens for Samoa and first got here to France to play for Narbonne in 2015. He returned to play for Beziers in 2018 earlier than switching to Montauban final season.

This season he had performed 24 matches in Pro2, scoring eight tries.

All Blacks prop Karl Tu’inukuafe, who performed alongside Meafua at Narbonne, posted a tribute on his Instagram web page.

“We will miss you my uso,” he posted.

– with AFP and the NZ Herald

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