The father of an 18-year-old who died unexpectedly in Pahiatua at the weekend says cancelling a senior rugby game was a huge mark of respect for his son.
Bush Sports defaulted to Martinborough on Saturday after Shae Hemopo, 18, was found dead on Saturday morning.
Although Shae wasn't in the team, his two brothers-in-law and a cousin were among the players.
Mark Hemopo, Shae's father, said his son's death was an "unexpected passing".
He said the cancellation of the game was a "huge mark of respect" for the teen, who was Pahiatua born and bred.
Mr Hemopo said Shae was a "quiet kid" who loved children, and was a huge rugby fan. "He did go to a lot of the Bush games".
Mr Hemopo described him as a typical 18-year-old. "He wasn't a bad boy, he just did silly boy things."
He would not comment on the cause of his son's death, as it would be confirmed by the coroner.
The former Tararua College student was in the second year of his building apprenticeship with former Wairarapa Bush captain Joss Tua-Davidson.
Bush president Mike Burmeister said the team were not in the right head space to play after receiving news of the death on Saturday morning, and he thinks they made the right call.
"They made the call as a team - there are a few more important things in life than rugby,'' he said.
Mr Burmeister said he was unsure of the circumstances of the death, but believes Shae was staying at the home of "one of the guys" in Pahiatua.
He said the cause of death is still to be confirmed by the coroner but is thought to be natural causes.
"Our thoughts go out to the family. It's a pretty horrible thing to have happen," he said.By Amie Hickland