Simon Plumb is a journalist for the Herald on Sunday

Tribute match for Jonah Lomu 'off the table'

A year after Jonah Lomu died a memorial match to celebrate his life remains unlikely to go ahead. Photo / File
A year after Jonah Lomu died a memorial match to celebrate his life remains unlikely to go ahead. Photo / File

A memorial match for rugby great Jonah Lomu is unlikely ever to go ahead.

One year since the former All Blacks great died, aged 40, after years of health struggles with a kidney condition, insiders say a commemorative rugby game is still no closer to kicking-off - and due to scheduling challenges, probably never will.

Prime Minister John Key was one of the high-profile supporters of a star-studded tribute fixture to benefit Lomu's two young sons, Dhyreille, 7, and Brayley, 6. But despite a lot of discussion in the immediate aftermath of Lomu's November 2015 death, the subject of a tribute game has fallen silent.

Toulon hosted the Classic All Blacks in October last year to commemorate the late Jerry Collins, but Classic All Blacks president Andy Haden says he has heard nothing about something similar for Lomu.

The trust set up to raise funds for Lomu's boys will hold a dinner in London this month, a move from not raising enough money in New Zealand in the year following the All Black's death.

One of the trustees, David Jones, says a memorial match at London's iconic 82,000-seat Twickenham stadium was kicked around, but it's not something the trust is chasing anymore.

"No, they looked at doing it up in England but it was just too difficult," Jones said.

"It was just too hard to find the right venue. It's not something the trust is pursuing."

Asked whether the match was completely off the table, Jones said he didn't the event as a viable option.

"Frankly yes, I think so. It's a difficult thing to organise given the schedule and you only want to do it in one place, which would be Twickenham," he said.

Realistically, I don't think it's a flier."

This week Lomu's widow spoke out on the eve of the first anniversary of his death. Nadene Lomu thanked those who supported her and the couple's young sons.

"Firstly, I want to express my heartfelt thanks and appreciation to all of those people who have supported our boys and myself since Jonah's death a year ago," she said in a statement issued by the New Zealand Rugby Players' Association.

"There have been many of you who have helped us through the toughest year of our lives.
At this especially difficult time we want to keep a low profile and not make any public appearances, which I am sure people can understand.

"While every day is a challenge without Jonah, this first anniversary is particularly poignant for us all."

Nadene Lomu said her sons were doing "as well as you could expect".

"But they miss their daddy hugely and we talk of him every day," she said.

"We have a tight support team now and we are so lucky with the love of our family, friends and the church."

She also acknowledged the victims of this week's deadly earthquake.

"There are many others suffering loss right now, not the least those affected by the devastating earthquakes this week.

"My heart goes out to all those who are grieving in any way. It is a time for kindness and understanding."

- Herald on Sunday

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