Sunday July 3, 2022

Samoan rugby star Kelly Meafua has died after reportedly jumping off a bridge in southwestern France, his club said. Montauban, a club in France’s second division, said in a statement over the weekend that the 31-year-old player died in the early hours of Saturday after a fall in the Tarn river.

According to media reports in France, Meafu jumped off the bridge after a night out with friends to celebrate a victory. CNN reported that just hours earlier, his team had earned a 48-40 victory over Narbonne.

Montauban said one of Meafu’s teammates “tried to rescue him, without success.” That player had to be transported to a hospital, where he was treated for hypothermia.

“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 club said in a statement.

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The former Samoa sevens player moved to France in 2015 to play with Narbonne before a return to the southern hemisphere. He moved back to France’s second division in 2018 with Beziers, then signed with Montauban.

In its statement, the team said it is “shocked by this tragedy, and [is thinking of] his wife, his children, his teammates, and more generally, all the club’s fans.”

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The club said it had indefinitely suspended training.

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Kelly Meafua (C) of Samoa is tackled by Biko Adema (L) and Patrice Agunda of Kenya in their pool match during the New Zealand rugby Sevens in Wellington on February 7, 2014. Marty Melville/AFP via Getty Images

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