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Rugby player dies after head injury in Auckland match

Liam Napier,
Publish Date
Mon, 29 Apr 2024, 2:01pm

Rugby player dies after head injury in Auckland match

Liam Napier,
Publish Date
Mon, 29 Apr 2024, 2:01pm

The Auckland rugby community is in a state of shock after a player died after suffering a head knock in Beachlands at the weekend.

In a weight-restricted Under-85kg match between Beachlands Maraetai and Patumāhoe on Saturday, Cory Heather, 33, suffered a head knock, believed to be from a knee to the head.

The Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter was called to Te Puru Park after Heather fell unconscious following the accident. He was flown to Auckland City Hospital in a critical condition.

His partner, Rachel Hurcombe, their three children - all aged under 5 - and his mother, Donna Heather, were watching the game when the accident happened. Sister Shania Heather arrived at the ground shortly after the accident.

With no hope of survival, the family agreed to turn off life support on Sunday evening.

A Givealittle page has been created to support the young family, with more than $15,000 raised in a few hours.

“Surrounded by his family and friends, Cory sadly passed away on Sunday evening,” the Givealittle page said.

“A much-loved partner to Rachel, hands-on father to his three children Stevie (5), Benji (4) and Louie (1), and a cherished friend to so many. A bright spark who led an exceptional life and will be so dearly missed. We love you forever, fly high Cory.

“If you are willing and able to support, we would appreciate donations for Rachel and her children during this heartbreaking time.”

Everyone who witnessed the match, including both teams and the referee, is reportedly seriously shaken by the incident.

Beachlands Maraetai club president James Gemmell mourned the loss of one of their senior players.

“Cory was a much-loved member of the Senior Under-85kg team, the club and wider community,” Gemmell said. “The club is heartbroken by Cory’s passing. His family, friends and teammates all have our love and support. We understand the accident will have been traumatic for many involved, including the opposition, match officials and spectators.

“We’d also like to sincerely thank the members of the community and first responders who came to Cory’s aid.”

The Beachlands Maraetai club is working closely with Counties Manukau Rugby and the New Zealand Rugby Foundation in supporting Cory’s family and all those impacted.

In a statement issued to the Herald, New Zealand Rugby boss Mark Robinson acknowledged the tragic event.

“On behalf of New Zealand Rugby, I would like to share our deepest condolences and love to Cory’s family. Our thoughts are also with the Beachlands Maraetai Rugby Club and the local region, who will be feeling the immense loss of a much-loved member of their community,” Robinson said.

“Please know that all of New Zealand Rugby is with you. NZR is providing support alongside Counties Manukau Rugby Union and the New Zealand Rugby Foundation.”

Liam Napier has been a sports journalist since 2010, and his work has taken him to World Cups in rugby, netball and cricket, boxing world title fights and Commonwealth Games.

This article was originally posted on the NZ Herald here.

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