‘He was always smiling’

Savanaca KokoibulilekaImage copyright
Oakham RFC

Image caption

About £10,000 has been raised for Mr Kokoibulileka’s family

A rugby union player who died after collapsing on the pitch during a match has been commemorated by his club.

Savanaca Kokoibulileka, known as Tu, collapsed while playing for Rutland-based club Oakham RFC in a game against West Bridgford on 24 September.

The 38-year-old Fijian had just scored a try when he collapsed. He died later in hospital.

A minute’s silence was observed before Oakham’s match against Stamford on Saturday afternoon.

Steve Knight, Oakham’s membership secretary, said he had been a great role model to the younger players.

‘Always laughing’

He told BBC Radio Leicester: “It happened right in front of the whole crowd and players on the pitch.

“It came completely out of the blue, Tu had just scored a try, came back to take the restart and he collapsed.

“He was a very jovial friendly chap, always smiling and always laughing.

“He was a great inspiration particularly to the younger players, they looked up to him and respected him.”

Image copyright
oakham RFC

Image caption

Tu was a popular member of the Oakham squad

A Fijian farewell is due to be sung by the club’s choir following the game.

Mr Kokoibulileka was a former British soldier and was married with four children, according to the Stamford Mercury.

His cause of death has not yet been revealed.

About £10,000 has been raised so far for Mr Kokoibulileka’s family following his death.

David Smiter, who started the Just Giving page, said he was “one of the greatest men I have ever known”.

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