All New Zealand Super Rugby games this weekend will pay tribute to the memory of Jordan Kemp, the Northland teenager who died after collapsing on the rugby field on Saturday.
Family, team mates and friends of Kemp along with hundreds of others braved harsh weather to attend his tangi today, at Otamatea marae on the Kaipara Harbour.
As Kemp's coffin was carried off the marae by uncles and cousins, former classmates from Auckland Grammar performed a haka in tribute to their friend.
When his body arrived on the marae's cemetery members of the Otamatea Hawks rugby club received the funeral party with another haka.
The talented hooker, a triplet who dreamed of playing for the All Blacks, collapsed during a game between his side the Otamatea Hawks and Old Boys Marist in Whangarei.
It is believed he suffered a brain bleed after a clash of heads.
He was taken to Auckland Hospital in a critical condition and reportedly put in an induced coma, but his life could not be saved.
Kemp came from well known rugby family and his grandfather Russell Kemp was a respected coach in the area in the 1990s.
"He was doing what he loved, playing footy. He was born into a rugby mad family," said Deon Nathan, Kemp's uncle.
This Saturday's Otamatea game against Horahora will be played in tribute to Kemp.
"[It shows] how the sport itself and his gentle nature, how he has affected people from Auckland to Northland," said Nathan.
"As an uncle I am just going to miss passing the ball around with him."
Kemp had suffered a concussion earlier in season and been "blue carded", which meant a mandatory three-week minimum stand down.
Northland Rugby is trialling the world-first International Rugby Board-sanctioned pilot scheme, which gave referees the power to order players off the field if they suspected a serious head knock.
"It avoids the worst-case scenario that we might come across once or twice a year when a player is concussed and everybody knows it, and the coach and the physio try to remove the player but he won't go," said Northland Rugby Union Chief executive Jeremy Parkinson, who attended the funeral.
Kemp had been the first player of the season blue carded and, as the rules dictated, had to see a doctor immediately after the game and get sign off before he took the field again.
He did not play for five weeks after the concussion but Parkinson said he had played for the last six weeks "symptom free", before last weekend.
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