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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)

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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.

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“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,” the club concluded in a statement.

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