WELLINGTON, New Zealand, Dec 31 – Tonga rugby sevens captain Atelea Okati was reported Saturday to have died following a car crash in the Pacific island kingdom.
“Am saddened to report the passing of Tongan Men’s 7’s Captain ‘Atelea Okati in a car accident,” RugbyTonga tweeted.
The 29-year-old, who died following an accident on Wednesday, has been a regular member of the Tonga sevens team for the past 10 years and also played rugby for Penrith in Australia and CSM Olimpia Bucharest in Romania.
“When death strikes a team, there is no game plan for the pain,” CSM Olimpia Bucharest coach Danie de Villiers said in a statement.
“Coaches like to believe that they can prepare for anything. Tricks, injury, extreme weather, know how to react in all circumstances.
“How can you put into words the emotion that you feel after receiving news so devastating?”
Okati most recently captained Tonga at the Oceania Sevens tournament in Fiji in November.
“All at World Rugby shocked by news of Tonga 7s captain Atelea Okati’s tragic death,” World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper tweeted.