Rugby star Kelly Meafua dies after falling off French bridge


May 9 (UPI) — A French rugby player from Samoa died Saturday morning after jumping into the River Tarns in Montauban hours after a team victory.

Kelly Meafua, 32, had been celebrating with a teammate Montauban’s 48-40 win over Narbonne in the team’s final Pro D2 home game at Stade Sapiac when he jumped into the river.


His Montauban teammate Christopher Vaotoa jumped into the river trying to save him but was unable to reach him, French authorities said. Vaotoa was treated for hypothermia at a local hospital before he was released later on Saturday.

Meafua started playing rugby in Samoa before moving to France in 2015, first playing for Narbonne in 2015. He then suited up for Beziers in 2018 and then started for Montauban last season. He played in 24 matches this season. Meafua also played in New Zealand during his rugby career.

Montauban said all of its training has been postponed until further notice.

“The entire USM Sapiac club is shocked by this tragedy, and [is thinking of] his wife, his children, his teammates, and more generally, all club lovers,” said a translated message on the rugby club’s website.


“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.”