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Samoan rugby player dies after jumping off bridge in France

By Ian Cameron
Kelly Meafua of the Waratahs competes at the lineout during the 2018 Global Tens match between the New South Wales Waratahs and the Highlanders at Suncorp Stadium on February 9, 2018 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

A Samoan ProD2 player has died after jumping from a bridge in France on Friday, Montauban have confirmed.

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32-year-old back row Kelly Meafua was reported to have jumped from a bridge after his side’s 48-40 win over Narbonne in the French second flight.

According to multiple witnesses, Meafua had been enjoying Montauban’s final home game of the season with his teammates before the former Waratahs player was seen jumping 22 meters from the Pont-Vieux bridge.

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Prop Christopher Vaotoa, one of his teammates, jumped into the water in a bid to save the former Samoan Sevens star.

Vaotoa was rescued by firefighters and sent to the hospital with hypothermia. Meafua’s body was discovered early Saturday morning.

“USM Sapiac painfully announces the death of Kelly MEAFUA on the night of Friday to Saturday.

“The 32-year-old fell in the Tarn in the early morning, and did not survive. One of his teammates tried to rescue him, without success. 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.

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“Today we lost a player, a friend, a brother,” the club concluded in a statement.

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Turlough 1 hours ago
Jean de Villiers' three word response to 'best in the world' debate

This ‘raging’ debate is only happenning in media circles and has never been a topic in Ireland (although SA media are interested). It makes the media companies money I guess. SA are RWC champions and #1 ranked team although Ireland are back within a point there. The facts point to SA. For a lot of 2021 France beat ALL their rivals and Ireland similar in 2022-2023. It is not wrong to say that on such form either can be deemed to be the current best team if they have beaten all their rivals and ranked #1. The ‘have to have won a world cup’ stipulation is nonsense. The world cup draw and scheduling has been tailored to the traditional big teams since the start. The scheduling also which sees the big teams sheltered from playing a hard pool match the week before has also been a constant. It is extraordinary that for example France have made so many finals. Ireland who were realistically only contenders in 2023 were in a Pool with two other top 5 teams and had to play one of them 7 days before a quarter final against France or New Zealand. Always going to be a coin toss. Scotland’s situation was worse. New Zealand had great chances in 1995, 1999, 2007 but they could not win a tight RWC match. The first tight match they ever won was versus France in the 2011 final, literally they lost every other tight match before that. Some of those NZ teams around that era were #1 surely?

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