Hawke's Bay Rugby Union is working with the New Zealand Rugby Foundation to support a senior rugby player and his family after the player suffered a spinal injury during a club match on Friday night.
The situation was confirmed in a short release, which said the union was supporting the player and family.
Hawke's Bay Rugby chief executive Jay Campbell said that the union was not naming the player at the family's request.
The statement said: "The extent of the player's injury remains unclear, and his family have requested privacy as he recovers from surgery at Christchurch Hospital."
The Lowe Corporation Hawke's Bay Rescue Helicopter Service confirmed to Hawke's Bay Today it had flown to Park Island, Napier, and that a player had been airlifted to Christchurch, home of the Burwood spinal unit.
A post on its Facebook page said: "On Friday evening, our crew were sent to a patient who had suffered spinal injuries while playing rugby. Our team then flew him directly to Christchurch ... We wish him and his family all the best."
On Friday night, the only match at Park Island was a Senior Division 3 match between host club Napier Old Boys Marist and Maraenui.
Hawke's Bay Today understands that the injury did not result from a dangerous tackle.
One witness said it appeared the player had fallen awkwardly while trying to evade a tackle.
The Rugby Foundation was formed in 1986 by All Black and Hawke's Bay rugby great Kel Tremain and transport industry pioneer Hawke's Bay philanthropist Sir Russell Pettigrew to "assist areas of rugby in need."
It now works to ensure the message of safety first is front of mind for all rugby players, alongside the comprehensive support the foundation provides to all seriously injured rugby players, financially and emotionally, for life.
The Foundation coordinates and provides immediate and more long-term support to seriously injured players, in tandem with the clinical care provided by the New Zealand medical system and the ACC.