Katikati, Te Teko and Opotiki Rugby clubs are three of the first rugby clubs in the country to be gifted a heart defibrillator as part of a new initiative.
These three Bay of Plenty Rugby clubs each have a player that is part of the NZ Rugby Foundation as a result of an injury sustained from rugby; Phil Wharekawa - Katikati rugby club, Kerry Southee - Te Teko rugby club, and Kerrin Tilley - Opotiki ruby club.
The Foundation will present a special plaque to each club along with the defibrillator, with Katikati the first to be presented at their home game on the weekend.
The New Zealand Rugby Foundation has set a lofty goal of having a heart defibrillator on the outside of every rugby club in New Zealand and already a life has been saved.
The Foundation set the goal after one of its Board members, former All Blacks doctor John ‘Doc’ Mayhew had a cardiac arrest in 2016 that would have been fatal without a defibrillator nearby which shocked his heart back into action within minutes of being resuscitated.
Rugby Foundation Chief executive Lisa Kingi-Bon says Doc and the rest of the Board were adamant to see something good come out of the distressing incident.
“We want to have a heart defibrillator installed on the outside of every rugby club in New Zealand. We know this is an ambitious goal as there are nearly 500 rugby clubs across the country but we want to protect all players in the game we love," says Lisa.
The NZ Rugby Foundation was founded in 1986 it provides lifelong support for 112 seriously injured players and their whānau, and works to prevent injuries in the sport.
NZ Rugby Foundation Board member and former All Black Captain Graham Mourie says he is thrilled to see the initiative in action.
“It is incredible to know that already a life has been saved and as the rollout continues it will make a difference not just for rugby players but also the communities that rugby clubs are in. They will know that there’s a defib on the club nearby – just in case they need it.”
Defibrillators are known to increase the survival rate of a person by more than 44 per cent when used within 3-5 minutes of a cardiac arrest.
Community Rugby Manager, Pat Rae, says the new defibrillator unit will bring the players and the community some peace of mind.
“We are really grateful to the NZ Rugby Foundation for supplying us with the heart defibrillator. Unfortunately, medical emergencies like heart attacks do happen and this provides our players and the whole community with another layer of protection," says Pat.
Donations from Lion Foundation and NZ Community Trust have enabled the NZ Rugby Foundation to distribute the first 26 defibrillator units with more to come.