Samoan rugby rocked by death of popular player

by AFP

The death of former Samoa Under 20 flanker Faiva Tagatauli on Thursday after a suspected head injury has rocked the country's rugby fraternity, the Samoa Rugby Union said. 

The 27-year-old was playing for Club Vaimoso in the capital Apia on Saturday when he walked off the field, less than 10 minutes before the end of the match. 

He lost consciousness on the sidelines and was taken to hospital, where he is believed to have fallen into cardiac arrest and spent the next days "fighting for his life", the Samoa Rugby Union said in a statement.

Tagatauli's club had "lost a popular teammate," said the union's CEO Faleomavaega Vincent Fepuleai.

"We will do all possible within our means to offer support in this difficult time."

The player's death comes after four rugby-related deaths in France in the past year, and at a time of rising concern over the effects of head injuries in contact sports such as rugby.

South Africa's Pat Lambie, 28, announced his sudden retirement last week, telling French sports daily L'Equipe he had suffered numerous concussions and "persistent post-concussion symptoms" as a result of his time in the sport.

Fepuleai said Samoan Rugby Union "prioritises and recognises the importance of player welfare."