A Kiwi father of three young children was closing in on his dream of managing the All Blacks when he fell down a flight of stairs and died in Tokyo.
Richard Newsome, 42, a Rugby World Cup organiser and rugby stalwart, was remembered by friends yesterday as a loyal, likeable man who was dedicated to his family, friends and rugby.
Newsome managed the Taranaki ITM Cup team in 2009.
Last night the Taranaki Rugby Football Union posted a message on their Facebook page saying they were saddened by the death of "a popular and highly respected colleague" who was a friend to many.
His widow, Rachael, speaking from their London home last night, said they would have been married for 10 years next January and had planned to celebrate with a trip to New York.
"He was the most amazing father . . . he passed on to them a real passion for life and a positive outlook. I only hope that I can carry that on for him."
While his children, Harrison, 6, Benji, 3, and Ella, 1, were confused and upset about their dad's death, Newsome said she was comforted by knowing his mates were having a drink for him back in Wellington.
At 4am yesterday, former Hurricanes and Wellington Lions player Shannon Paku woke to a phone call from Rachael Newsome to say his best man and long-time friend had died at the weekend.
"It's hard to swallow," he said. "I'm full of reminiscing and remembering the laughs, and then it will sink in and the tears start rolling down.
"I've lost one of my best buds."
They were each best man at the other's wedding, and Paku said he had planned to catch up with Newsome, who was due in Auckland this weekend, at a Junior Rugby World Cup match.
Newsome, a Wellington College old boy, was employed by the International Rugby Board and worked for Rugby World Cup 2015, to be hosted in England. He was in Tokyo working on the 2019 event.
He fell down some stairs, hit his head and was knocked unconscious, dying shortly after, Paku said. "It was just a terrible freak accident."
Newsome had previously worked on the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand and was destined for big things, he said. "He was one step away from his dream to be the manager of the All Blacks."
Rugby World Cup 2011 chief executive Martin Snedden said members of the organising team met at a Wellington pub last night to remember Newsome, who overcame any work issues by being "likeable and professional".
"How well liked he was is obvious by the heap of people that turned up at short notice to remember him."
Newsome had successfully managed at club and provincial level in New Zealand, and held several management roles at Old Boys University in Wellington.
Life member and former OBU premier coach Hamish Vance said the club would be devastated by the news. "A lot of the guys were close to him and Rachael, they were both very popular."
The IRB said in a statement: "Richard was a hugely popular and greatly admired member of the IRB and Rugby World Cup teams and he will be deeply missed."
- The Dominion Post
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