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Ex-NSW Waratahs star rugby player dies after jumping off a bridge in France in tragic accident 

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Ex-NSW Waratahs rugby star dies after jumping off a bridge in France – despite his team mate’s desperate attempts to stop him

  • Kelly Meafua died after jumping from bridge in southern France on Saturday 
  • The 32-year-old was celebrating a win with his Montauban rugby union club 
  • A team-mate tried to rescue him but ended up hospitalised with hypothermia 

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.

Kelly Meafua (with ball) was celebrating with teammates when he leapt into a river from a height of at least 20 metres and did not survive

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.

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.

Teammate Christopher Vaotoa leaped in to try to rescue Meafua (pictured) but couldn't save him and ended up being hospitalised with hypothermia

Teammate Christopher Vaotoa leaped in to try to rescue Meafua (pictured) but couldn’t save him and ended up being hospitalised with hypothermia 

The ex-Waratah jumped from the Pont Vieux Bridge over the Tarn River in southern France

The ex-Waratah jumped from the Pont Vieux Bridge over the Tarn River in southern France

‘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.’

Meafua only started playing rugby at the age of 20 after moving to New Zealand when he was a teenager.

The 32-year-old played for Australia’s NSW Waratahs in the Global Tens tournament in 2018 and starred in Sydney club rugby for West Harbour and the Greater Sydney Rams.

He also made the Samoa team for the 2013 World Rugby Sevens Series, moved to France to play for Narbonne in 2015 and switched to Beziers in 2018 before joining Montauban in 2020.

This season Meafua had scored eight tries in 24 Pro D2 matches for Montauban. 



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