THE rugby world has paid tribute to one of Spain’s star players, Kawa Leauma, 32 who died at the weekend after sustaining head injuries in a fall.
Leauma, who played lock for Spain’s Rugby Union first division club Ordizia as well as the national team, was in Amsterdam for Spain’s Six Nations B match against the Netherlands when he reportedly fell from a height of eight metres in what was described as a “freak accident.
A statement from the Spanish Rugby Federation read: “The Spanish Rugby Federation regrets to announce the death of Kawa Leauma overnight, AMPO Ordizia and XV del León player, who suffered an accident on Saturday, 18 December after Spain’s match against the Netherlands in Amsterdam.
“At the express wish of his wife, who is currently travelling to the Dutch capital, we cannot give any further information at the moment and we ask for the utmost respect for her and her family. Rest in peace, Kawa.”
Leauma was born in New Zealand and played for Samoa at U20 level as well as for Auckland’s sevens team and clubs in Sydney and Canberra before moving to Spain in 2018.
He had initially been named in Spain’s squad for the Amsterdam match and would have made his debut in the World Cup qualifier after completing three years’ residency, but a last-minute doubt was raised over his eligibility and he was withdrawn, according to Planet Rugby.
He was taken to hospital after the fall but died after undergoing surgery for his head injuries.
Spain’s Higher Sports Council president Jose Manuel Franco led tributes: “We very much regret the death of Kawa Leauma. Our sincere condolences to his family, friends and the entire world of rugby.”
The Spanish Olympic Committee (COE), the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) and the Athletics Federation have all honoured the player.
“From the RFEF we join in the pain for the loss of Kawa Leauma and we wish to convey our sincere condolences to his family and friends, as well as to @ferugby. Rest in peace,” the RFEF’s tweet read.
“Deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Spain international Kawa Leauma,” World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said on Twitter. “My thoughts are with his team mates and family at this difficult time.”