Players formed a human shield and sang songs in support of their fallen teammate as paramedics performed life-saving CPR on a man who collapsed during a club rugby game on Saturday.
A spectator at Shadbolt Park on Saturday watching the match between the club’s Premier Development side and Manukau Rovers Rugby Football Club said it was “pretty freaky” to see a player on the ground for the second week in a row.
“I had to hold back the tears,” the parent of another Suburbs player told the Herald. “I didn’t know who it was or what happened or how bad the injury was, and all of a sudden a small group of us noticed that CPR was being performed on them.
“It looked like it was about 50-60 players [around the injured player] because you had the bulk of the squad from the Premier Development teams from both clubs, and the Premier boys that were about to play ended up circled around and facing outwards. Then they started singing.”
The players sang a Fijian hymn called Noqu Masu, which is often sung in church and during sports events.
The Premier game, scheduled to follow that development match, was called off before an ambulance arrived.
The father said it was a “horrific scene”.
He said he was impressed to see that most of the players who circled to protect the downed Suburbs player were from opposition club Manukau.
“They are the visiting club – both clubs were pretty shaken up.”
The man said the player collapsed moments after the final whistle when he was about to join a corridor for the Premier side as they ran on the field.
The player was transported to Auckland Hospital to receive treatment after the Premier Development match between Suburbs and Manukau.
The Herald reported today the player is believed to have suffered a seizure and stopped breathing before members of the public rushed to his aid and performed CPR.
A source said: “The word is that he’s pretty shaken up and confused because he just woke up in a hospital bed, not knowing what happened.”
It comes after another Suburbs player the week prior had collapsed on the field before being rushed to hospital and undergoing surgery to remove a blood clot from his brain.
The father of a teammate told the Herald his son was pretty shaken up after the incident following what happened to another teammate the week before.
“All I would say is I’m concerned,” the dad told the Herald. “I always fear for my son’s safety a little bit because the games are pretty rough.”
“He’s only 20, he’s not big, but he’s still playing these big guys, and he’s pretty fearless and goes in and makes tackles and stuff.
“I know he was pretty concerned for his mate but, you know, he’s still holding on to the dream of playing rugby at a high level.”
The events come after a Bay of Plenty rugby league player and a rugby union player from Ruatōria both died after on-field incidents.
NZ Rugby’s general manager of community rugby Steve Lancaster said: “We are aware of the two medical emergencies in Auckland club rugby recently and our collective thoughts are first and foremost with the players, their families and teammates.”
“The New Zealand Rugby Foundation is providing support to the families. We’re conscious that there may be people who are impacted by witnessing these events and we encourage them to reach out to the New Zealand Rugby Foundation directly for support.”