Army confident safety measures up to scratch after league game death

Ayoung army officer who died after receiving a knock to the head during a friendly rugby league match at his base has been remembered by his family as the "perfect son".

Lieutenant Sam Scott, 21, took a knee to the head in a tackle during an intra-unit league nines game at Linton Military Camp last Friday. He was rushed to Palmerston North Hospital in critical condition about 11.30am before being transferred to Wellington Hospital later the same day. He died on Wednesday morning.

The Defence Force says sport is integral to military life and appropriate safety and medical steps were taken before the match. After Lieutenant Scott's injury, he received initial care from a qualified combat lifesaver who was on the side of the field.

"A qualified NZ Army doctor and medic attended the scene and provided further assistance before Lieutenant Scott was transferred to hospital in a civilian ambulance," a Defence Force spokesman said last night.


"The NZ Army is confident that all appropriate steps were in place prior to the intra-unit sport competition."

Parents Andrew and Louise Scott said they backed the army's actions.

Last night, they paid tribute to their popular son, who they said died "playing a game he loved in a job he loved".

"I said just before we went out for his 21st that he was a perfect son. I was so proud of him," said 53-year old Mr Scott, speaking yesterday on behalf of his wife, 46, and son Liam, 18, who "hero worshipped" his elder brother.

An active youth, Sam Scott represented Manawatu in both age-group rugby and tennis. He also excelled while studying at Palmerston North Boys' High School before leaving school at 17 to join the army through the Kippenberger scheme.

It allowed him as an officer cadet to be based at Linton and study at Massey University before becoming commissioned. He graduated as an officer in December 2012 before a recent promotion to lieutenant - making him one of the youngest Defence Force lieutenants outside of wartime. "Sam had an amazing ability to assess situations under pressure and find simple solutions," Mr Scott said.

He had been on training exercises to Brunei and Melbourne and had just returned from the Middle East on Wednesday of last week - his 21st birthday - his father said.

The family are now discussing funeral arrangements with the Defence Force.

WorkSafe NZ is weighing up whether to investigate the death.