Samoan rugby player Kelly Meafua lost his life after jumping off a bridge in France following a victorious match with Narbonne at the French second division match of the Pro D2 game season. The 32-year-old back-row forward leaped from the Pont-Vieux bridge and fell into the River Tarn on Saturday after playing a match where his team, French club Montauban scored a win of 48-40. 

According to The Guardian, Meafua was with his teammate in the early hours of the morning when he took the fatal leap from the bridge measuring a height of 20 meters all the way down to the water. Fellow Montauban player forward Christopher Vaotara jumped into the icy waters of the river and desperately tried to save Meafua but his efforts were in vain as he had to be rescued by firefighters and taken to hospital after suffering from hypothermia. Meafua lost his life and teammate Vaotara was discharged from the hospital the following day.

Both players were reportedly out in town celebrating their win over Narbonne. Not many details have been released about the tragic death but US Montauban spokesman Jean-Baptiste Fourcade told media that the an investigation has been launched to look further into the death of Meafua. Team officials were quoted saying the incident was a tragedy and not a “bad ending to a party”.

The team has expressed their shock, bearing in mind the player’s wife and children. "U.S.M. Sapiac painfully announces the death of Kelly Meafua on the night of Friday to Saturday," the club statement said. "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 Samoan-born player moved to New Zealand as a teenager and started playing rugby at the age of 20.  He had stints with Otahuhu, Auckland in the Under-21s and with the Auckland Sevens. When he started playing for West Harbor in Shute Shield and the Greater Sydney Rams, Meafuea eventually moved to Sydney. He became a member of the NSW Waratahs' extended training squad and left for France to play for Narbonne in 2015.

He played for Waratahs in the Global Tens tournament in 2018 prior to his stint with Montauban which kicked off in 2020.

File photo of Kelly Meafua Kelly Meafua of Otahuhu runs with the ball during the Club Rugby match between Ponsonby and Otahuhu on May 17, 2014 in Auckland, New Zealand. Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images