Takapuna rugby player dies following collapse

MARYKE PENMAN
Last updated 09:08 24/07/2013
Willie Halaifonua
Facebook/John Rau
RUGBY TRAGEDY: A club rugby player has died in hospital after he collapsed following a game in Auckland.

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A top rugby player has died in hospital after he collapsed following a game on Saturday.

Takapuna Rugby Club player Willie Halaifonua, 27, fell unconscious on his way back to the changing rooms after a premier match against Massey at the Onewa club grounds.

He was rushed to Auckland Hospital where he underwent emergency brain surgery before being placed in an induced coma.

The Tongan father of two young children died late last night surrounded by his wife and other family members.

Mr Halaifonua played lock for his club side and was announced player of the day just moments before he collapsed.

Team management reported that he had suffered a number of knocks during the game, but did not appear to have suffered a concussion.

Takapuna Rugby Club players and officials held vigil at Auckland Hospital in the days following his collapse.

Family, friends and team mates have shared their grief on social media with many remembering Mr Halaifonua as a gifted, yet humble sportsman and a loving father.

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