Rugby commentator dies in Cape Town

Former Tonga lock and popular Sky Sport NZ rugby commentator Willie Los’e has died in Cape Town where he was set to work at the Sevens World Cup tournament.

Auckland-born Los’e, who captained Tonga at the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa, reportedly died after a “medical event” on Wednesday. He was 55.

In an interview with fellow rugby commentator Keith Quinn, Los’e confirmed that playing for Tonga had been a career highlight.

“Firstly, I’ll go for two of my very proudest moments? That’s easy. Becoming a dad for the first and second time were days I will never forget.

“Then in a rugby sense playing my first test at the Rugby World Cup in South Africa in 1995. It was Tonga v France at Loftus Versfeld Ground in Pretoria. I cried right through the Tongan national anthem – I just wished and wished my parents had been alive to have been there.”

“Willie was unfailingly polite and generous with his time for young broadcasters,” said Newstalk ZB’s Elliot Smith. “He stepped into the breach last year when my expert commentator was unavailable at the last minute for a Test match when Willie was down to do sideline comments. He pivoted and did both jobs at once with aplomb. That was Willie to a tee, nothing seemed to faze him.”

“The Rugby World lost a really, really special one today in Willie Los’e,” said Australian commentator, Sean Maloney. “He showed many of us the way in commentary and was always smiling when he did. A great man who genuinely loved the game and who will be deeply and sadly missed.”

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