A local premier rugby match was called off in Rotorua today after a player suffered a serious injury.

The Baywide match between Rotoiti and Paroa at Emery Park was called off just 18 minutes into the first half.

Bay of Plenty Rugby Union media spokeswoman Amanda Thompson said a Rotoiti prop suffered a back injury and due to the serious nature of the injury the decision was made to call the match off.

Rotoiti premier team manager Clyde Whata said prop Arapo Whata was carrying the ball when he took a tackle and fell to the ground. Other players converged in from both sides and fell on him.

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Clyde said the prop managed to roll on to his back but was in a lot of pain.

A physiotherapist at the game advised them not to move the injured player until the paramedics arrived. Once he had been assessed, team members helped lift him onto the stretcher.

Doctors at Rotorua Hospital believed he had only suffered heavy bruising to his lower back but were waiting to get him x-rayed just to be sure, Clyde said.

Arapo was in good spirits and was moving around so Clyde was confident he would be fine.