Young Wellington rugby player dies

A 19-year-old rugby player from Wellington has died after suffering an on-field head injury last Saturday.

Daniel Baldwin was hurt in a match at Ngati Toa Domain, north of Porirua, and was placed in an induced coma in a critical condition.

He died on Wednesday night, a family statement said on Thursday.

The cause of the injury is unclear, but witnesses have reported to the Wellington Rugby Football Union (WRFU) that Mr Baldwin was involved in a first-half collision.

He was not removed from the field until late in the match, when teammates noticed him struggling during a stoppage.

Mr Baldwin’s condition then deteriorated rapidly and an ambulance was called to take him to Wellington Hospital for brain surgery.

His family – father Len, mother Eva and brothers Stefan and Markus – and girlfriend Lucy had been at his bedside since and were now coming to terms with the tragic accident.

Len Baldwin says the family are remembering the larger-than-life young man, with a strong moral compass, who embraced life in everything he did.

The family statement said they greatly appreciated all of the love, care and support they and Daniel had received, but had no further comment to make and asked for privacy as they grieved.

Both New Zealand Rugby and the WRFU have expressed their sympathy, and Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd also added his voice to the tributes at training on Thursday.

“As a father myself who’s got four kids of the same sort of age – my heart would go out to the family and friends of that young man,” Boyd said.

“It’s a tragedy. He’s in our extended family, and we’ll look to support their close-knit family in the best way we can.”

NZR general manager of rugby Neil Sorensen said the organisation’s immediate focus was on ensuring Daniel’s family and friends were fully supported.

“Nineteen-year-old kids aren’t supposed to die playing sport. It’s distressing and so terribly sad,” he said.

The Rugby Foundation, an organisation which supports injured rugby players, financially and emotionally, is also in contact with Mr Baldwin’s family and club.

An inquiry into the events that led to Mr Baldwin’s death has already begun, the WRFU said.