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The rugby world has been left in shock after the death of Spanish player Kawa Laeuma at the young age of 32, as a result of an unspecified accident in the Netherlands.
Laeuma was in Amsterdam for Spain's Six Nations B match against the Netherlands, and suffered 'severe head trauma' after reportedly having a fall.
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He underwent emergency surgery after he was quickly taken to hospital in a critical condition, but died in hospital.
Laeuma, who was born in New Zealand and represented Samoa in under-20s, had switched his allegiance to Spain after joining first division club Ordizia.
The 32-year-old had been unable to play in the team's first match due to issues surrounding his eligibility still being ironed out.
In a statement, the Spanish Rugby Federation confirmed the 32-year-old's tragic death.
“We regret to announce the death of Kawa Leauma,” their statement 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.”
Tributes flow following tragic death of Kawa Leauma
The rugby world was quick to show support for Leauma's family, friends and teammates.
A series of tributes to the 32-year-old were posted on social media in the hours after his death was announced to the public.
The chairman of World Rugby and former England captain Bill Beaumont lead the charge.
“Deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Spain international Kawa Leauma,” Beaumont wrote.
“My thoughts are with his teammates & family at this difficult time.”
Deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Spain international Kawa Leauma. My thoughts are with his teammates & family at this difficult time
— Sir Bill Beaumont (@BillBeaumont) December 21, 2021
Sending our love and thoughts to the family and friends of Kawa Leauma.
RIP Kawa ❤️
— Hurricanes Rugby (@Hurricanesrugby) December 21, 2021
The Romanian Rugby Union presents its condolences to the @ferugby for the loss of Kawa Leauma. It is more than tragic for a life to end when the person had such a bright future ahead and so many plans and wishes to fulfill. 1/2 #RIP pic.twitter.com/7XmDP4mjji
— Rugby Romania (@RugbyRomania) December 21, 2021
Very sad news; Confirmation from the Spanish rugby Union that Kawa Leauma has died following the incident in Amsterdam https://t.co/PE9UA3QHrC
— chris jones (@chrisjonespress) December 21, 2021
The president of the Spanish Olympic Committee was also shocked by the sudden passing of Leuma, who likely would have gone on to represent Spain in other international competition.
"Shocked by the news of Kawa Leauma's passing," Blanco tweeted in Spanish.
"What an injustice ... A fabulous boy that I was lucky enough to meet a few weeks ago. My sincere condolences to his family, friends, colleagues and to all of Spanish rugby. I accompany you in the feeling."
In New Zealand, Leauma's former club Mount Wellington posted on Facebook about the impact he had during his time there.
"Kawa was an integral part of our Mount Wellington Premier side, great player and humble both on and off the field and we enjoyed seeing him continue to thrive beyond his time at our club," the club wrote.
"He will be sorely missed by many of our community and we extend our sincere condolences to his wife and family as they navigate this tough time in a foreign country."
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