Rugby community reels at death of Talaʻofa Saafi

    A senior rugby officer who died suddenly last night in Tonga has been remembered as an “outstanding employee”.

    The rugby community was reeling from the loss of 37-year-old Tala’ofa Saafi, with rugby authorities and friends across the kingdom paying respect to him.

    “He is one of our Senior Rugby Development Officers”, Tonga Rugby Union (TRU)  boss Fe’ao Vunipola told Kaniva News.

    “Outstanding employee who always gives his utmost best in whatever he does”, he said.

    He said Saafi’s death has hit the union hard.

    Former President of TRU and Member of Parliament Sangstar Saulala said Saafi and his family were staying in Lavengamalie.

    Saulala who is also one of the leaders of the Lavengamalie institutes said Saafi worked as a registrar at the Lavengamalie Institute of Technology and also the coach for the Lavengamalie Hurricanes.

    Saulala remembered Saafi as a “brother”. He said yesterday was a special day for Saafi he was happy and they had good talk with him about plans for the future.

    Saulala said he did not know that was his last day with him.

    “RIL my brother Talaofa Saafi may God give peace to your family”, he wrote on Facebook.

    Former TRU CEO ‘Emeline Tuita said Saafi had a vision for the development of rugby and sports for the community.

    “Ours is not to reason why such qualified, talented leadership is wrenched away so soon”, Tuita said.

    “You have left a deep impression and will not be forgotten. May the fulfillment of visions align with our passion to yield opportunities for our Tongans here and abroad so that your legacy lives on.

    “Always smiling, always believing that there will be better times for the school and for sports/rugby.”

    Saafi is survived by his wife Judie Lauaki Saafi and their five children.


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