Rugby. What we know about the death of Montauban player Kelly Meafua

Kelly Meafua, 31-year-old Samoan third line playing in Montauban, a Pro D2 club, killed himself on the night of Friday to Saturday, after jumping into the Tarn from a bridge, the club announced on Saturday via a statement.

“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, can we read from the press release. 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. »

Here’s what we know about the drama.

His teammate tried to rescue him

Kelly Meafua went out to a nightclub in downtown Montauban, after playing the penultimate game of the season against Narbonne the day before (48-40). He was accompanied by his club partner, French prop Christopher Vaotoa, 25, and a player from Narbonne. The accident reportedly took place around 6:30 a.m. Saturday morning. The third line was seen by a passerby throwing himself from the Pont-Vieux, 22 meters high, AFP learned from a source close to the club, confirming information from the local daily The Midi Dispatch .

His teammate immediately jumped in to try to rescue him. “I chose the third, very alcoholic, who wanted to do the same”told a witness of the scene to The Midi Dispatch. A dozen firefighters arrived on the scene thirty minutes later. They recovered on the bank Christopher Vatoa, in a state of hypothermia and shock. He was taken to the nearest hospital. “He came out almost an hour later. He is in perfect health.”, reassured the USM. Kelly Meafua’s lifeless body was not found until two hours later. His identity was confirmed by the authorities, and the death pronounced at 8:45 a.m.

An autopsy and blood tests requested

The prosecutor of Montauban, Bruno Sauvage, favors the track of a “dramatic accident”. For the time being, the reasons for the player’s gesture are unknown. “We don’t know why he jumped, we have no idea”USM told The Team .

An autopsy was requested by the Montauban prosecution, in order to determine the exact causes of death, as well as samples to detect possible traces of alcohol and narcotics, cocaine in particular. Results are expected mid next week. The club has taken the decision to suspend training until further notice. The last match of the season will take place on Thursday, a trip to Nevers.

A pillar of the Montauban club

Many Pro D2 clubs, but also Top 14, paid tribute to the player on social networks. “ Our condolences to the family and loved ones of Kelly Meafua. Support for our Montalban friends, players, staff and supporters »tweeted the Union Bordeaux-Bègles.

“The FCG shares the sadness and pain of Kelly Meafua’s family and the Montauban club. Our thoughts are with you during this difficult time.”tweeted the Grenoble club (Pro D2).

“The announcement of the death of Kelly Meafua leaves the world of rugby in shock. The NRL sends its deepest condolences to his family, loved ones, club and teammates.”reacted the National Rugby League.

Former Samoan rugby sevens international, Kelly Meafua arrived in France in 2015, and began his career in France in Narbonne. He then went through Béziers in 2018, took a break from Australia, before joining Montauban in 2020. This season, he had played 24 league games and scored eight tries. He had become one of the pillars of the group and had recently extended his contract for a year. Aged 31, Kelly Meafua was the father of three children and was going to be a dad for the fourth time in the coming weeks.

Rugby. What we know about the death of Montauban player Kelly Meafua

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