A rugby player has been taken to hospital in a critical condition after collapsing during a match at the World Masters Games.

The player collapsed during a game between Ponsonby and Pakuranga at Lloyd Elsmore Park in East Auckland yesterday afternoon.

St John Ambulance spokeswoman Jennifer Porter said a man in his 40s was taken to Middlemore Hospital.

It is understood a Ponsonby player collapsed during the game. Both teams were star-studded, with former All Blacks Junior Tonu'u and Pita Alatini turning out for the respective teams during the tournament.

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A Middlemore Hospital spokeswoman said the man was in a critical condition in intensive care earlier today, but has since improved and is now in the coronary care unit and is "off the critical list".

Members of the Pakuranga team formed a guard of honour as the Ponsonby players left the field, which was then reciprocated. The match was not completed.

World Masters Games chief executive Jennah Wootten said "our best wishes are with him and his family for a full recovery".

"We have medical services in place at all World Masters Games 2017 competition venues to respond to situations such as this.

"We are pleased that St John was on hand and able to transfer the man to hospital without delay."

Ponsonby director of rugby Nathan Kemp told the Herald he was not in a position to comment.

The Pakuranga United Rugby Club has been contacted for comment.