The rugby fraternity in Samoa is in mourning.
It follows the death of a 27-year-old rugby player, Faiva Tagatauli, who died yesterday from a suspected head injury during a game between Vaimoso and Vailele at the HPU Rugby Field, Tuana’imato, last Saturday.
The death was confirmed by the Samoa Rugby Union in a statement. It was Faiva’s first game after missing all of last year’s season.
Less than 10 minutes from the end of the game, Faiva, a flanker, left the field unaided and wanted to be replaced. In attendance to assist him in the sidelines was where he lost consciousness, the statement said.
“The emergency service was alerted immediately to revive and stabilise before the Ambulance transported him to the National Hospital. Faiva is believed to fell into cardiac.”
He spent four days at the High Dependency Unit fighting for his life.
Samoa Rugby Union CEO, Faleomavaega Vincent Fepuleai, expressed his deepest condolences.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with Faiva’s wife Seutatia, and their son as well as their family at Fagamalo at this time,” he said.
“We also express our condolences to the Vaimoso Rugby Club who have lost a popular team mate.
“We will do all possible within our means to offer the support in this difficult time. The Union prioritises and recognises the importance of player welfare.”
“We work closely with the Rugby Players Associations and World Rugby to ensure training and awareness programs are rolled out through match officials, coaches and administrators.”
Faiva Tagatauli played for Samoa’s Under 20 in 2011 under coach Soifua John Schuster. The team went on to win the Junior World Trophy in Georgia. He also played in the Super 9 tournament.
In a separate statement issued by the Vaimoso Rugby Union, Team Manager Tauiliili Polito Vili said that Faiva had called out wanting to be substituted 30 minutes into the second half of their match against Vailele.
“There was no visible incident that led to his injury. When the maul disbursed, Faiva stood up and that was when he called out to me,” the statement reads.
“He walked off the field, came around to me and said that he was not feeling well. He was given water and ice, but not long after that he collapsed.”
The statement said the Apia Rugby Union Secretary called the ambulance which arrived “within seven minutes.”
“The ambulance staff attended to Faiva and worked on him for some time before he was taken to the hospital. Faiva was taken to the emergency at Motootua, and after x-rays, a visiting neurologist performed surgery on him.
“I contacted Faiva’s wife,” Tauiliili said. “The doctors waited for Seutatia to arrive and sign off before they took him into surgery. The result of the x-rays showed that there was internal bleeding on the right side of the brain, and the doctors said that it was lucky we were able to get him to the hospital on time.”
“This is a very sad loss for the Vaimoso Rugby Club,” said Tauiliili.
“We have been by the side of the family, especially his wife since the incident on Saturday, offering our support and giving some money to help with expenses.”
“Faiva had not played all of last year, and this was his first game of the season. He loved the game of rugby, and this is a sad loss. Vaimoso Rugby Club dedicates this weekend’s shield match against Vaiala to Faiva Tagatauli. All our players will be wearing black armbands as a tribute to Faiva.”
Secretary of the Apia Rugby Union, Tafaoimalo Laifa Vaoiva Petersen, said they are in close contact with the family and will be offering their assistance.
“The Apia Rugby Union will be offering support and monetary assistance to help Faiva’s family with costs. We know that Vaimoso Rugby Club is also going to do the same.”
This loss will be felt throughout the 11 clubs of Apia Rugby Union and across the rugby family of players, “ said Tafaoimalo.
“All matches this Saturday will observe a moment of silence, and I know that Vaimoso will be bringing everything they have to the shield match in dedication to Faiva.
“Apia Rugby Union conveys their deepest condolences to the family of Faiva, especially his wife and son, as well as his family.”