National | Death

Rugby player collapses, dies during Ruatoria centennial match

Ngāti Porou East Coast and Mid Canterbury players observe a minute's silence in Ruatoria.  Photo credit / NZ Herald

A player involved in a match celebrating the centenary of a Ruatoria rugby club has died this morning after an on-field incident, according to an NZ Herald report.

The player collapsed during the match between Ruatoria City's 2022 squad and a Ruatoria Centennial XV.

Despite extensive efforts to save him, the player was pronounced dead at the scene with the match abandoned and a karakia sung as his body was removed from the pitch, the Herald says.

A spectator said players remained around their mate's body, as they took turns to pay their respects.

The ground was to be blessed and union officials were to speak to the man's whānau before a decision was made to play the Lochore Cup final this afternoon between Ngāti Porou East Coast and Mid Canterbury.

Union officials have since confirmed the clash would go ahead despite the death.

Before kickoff, the players observed a minute's silence to mark the death.