Samoan rugby player Kelly Meafua has died after jumping from a bridge in France just hours after playing a match, despite a team-mate’s desperate attempts to save his life.
The 32-year-old, who played for French club Montauban, leapt from the Pont-Vieux bridge into the River Tarn in the south of the country on Saturday, Australian time, while celebrating his team’s 48-40 victory over Narbonne in their final home Pro D2 game of the season.
He was with team-mates when he jumped into the water from a height of more than 20 metres, according to French news reports.
Montauban prop forward Christopher Vaotoa tried to save Meafua but had to be rescued by firefighters and was hospitalised with hypothermia. He was discharged the following day.
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Montauban expressed their shock at the tragic news in a club statement which read: ‘The entire club is shocked and everyone is thinking of his wife, his children, his teammates and more generally everyone who loves the club,’ a club statement read.
‘Kelly was a player who was well liked by everybody. His joy for life was infectious and radiant. Today we have lost a player, a friend and a brother.’
The Union Sportive Montauban Sapiac team posted a tribute to him online.
‘U.S.M. Sapiac painfully announces the death of Kelly Meafua on the night of Friday to Saturday,’ the club statement said.
‘One of his teammates tried to rescue him, without success
‘The entire club is shocked and everyone is thinking of his wife, his children, his teammates and more generally everyone who loves the club,’ a club statement read.
This season Meafua had scored eight tries in 24 Pro D2 matches for Montauban