Samoan back row forward Kelly Meafua died on Friday night after jumping from a bridge into the river Tarn during an evening of festivities, his club Montauban confirmed on Saturday.
The 31-year-old had played in his side’s 48-40 win over Narbonne in the French second division on Friday.
“Everyone at USM is in complete shock, Kelly was so well liked. We haven’t just lost a player but also a friend and brother,” the club said in a statement.
According to several testimonies, Meafua had been celebrating Montauban’s last home game of the season with his teammates before he was seen jumping from the Pont-Vieux, a height of 22 metres.
One of his teammates, prop Christopher Vaotoa, jumped into the water to help him.
Rescued by firefighters, Vaotoa was taken to hospital with hypothermia before Meafua’s body was found early Saturday morning.
Meafua played Sevens for Samoa and first came to France to play for Narbonne in 2015. He returned to play for Beziers in 2018 before switching to Montauban last season.
This season he had played 24 matches in Pro2, scoring eight tries.
© Agence France-Presse