Club rugby referee recovering after on-field heart failure

Rugby referee Tim Wills is on the road to recovery after collapsing with heart failure near the end of a club game in Dunedin on Saturday.

Mr Wills (21) was officiating a championship colts game between Green Island Green and Kaikorai Cobras when he fell to the ground unconscious with eight minutes still to play.

It is understood Mr Wills has an underlying heart condition, which recurred when on the field on Saturday.

"He is still in hospital waiting to hear from his specialist, who is based in Christchurch," Otago Rugby Referees Association chairman Bryce Adie said.

"But he is sitting up in bed and he’s OK, even though it was pretty horrific for him and maybe even more so for the people around him."

Mr Adie did not know if Mr Wills would be able to continue refereeing, which he had switched to with great enthusiasm after no longer being able to play.

If he could not continue to referee there were many other roles in which Mr Wills could remain actively involved in rugby, Mr Adie said.

"He’s a very nice young man going through the ranks.

"He’s been refereeing for 18 months or so, and we’ll continue to do everything we can to support him."

The Rugby Foundation, which assists seriously injured players, had been in touch immediately after Mr Wills collapsed and offered invaluable assistance, Mr Adie said.

"Green Island Rugby Club were also absolutely superb from what Tim has told me: rugby is for everyone, not just the players and coaches, and we’re all in this together."

Mr Wills posted on Facebook yesterday that he did not like to talk about his heart condition, but that he was well and thanked everyone for their good wishes.

"The support I've received from the rugby community over the weekend has been incredible, so thank you to everyone," he said.

"I'll never stop loving this sport."

The game was abandoned after the incident.










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