‘Dark day’: Shock as All Blacks rugby star dead at 25 in car crash as he is survived by wife and young family

The world of rugby is mourning Maori All Blacks star Sean Wainui after he died in a car crash on Monday morning. New Zealand rugby officials described it as a “dark day” for the sport.

Wainui died at the scene in a single-person crash at McLaren Falls Park after his car left the road and hit a tree. The full circumstances of the accident are still unclear.

The 25-year-old star was a popular name in Super Rugby, debuting for the Crusaders in 2016 before moving to the Chiefs in 2018

He also played for Taranaki and in May of this year announced that he had signed for National Provisional Championship team Bay of Plenty for the 2021 season.

The center and winger made his debut for the Maori All Blacks – a New Zealand team made up of players with Maori ancestry – in 2015 and went on to make 10 appearances.  

In June, Wainui recorded the feat of scoring five tries in a Super Rugby trans-Tasman victory for the Chiefs over the Waratahs, the first player to ever do so in Super Rugby history.

Wainui is survived by his wife Paige – with whom he celebrated his first wedding anniversary in September – as well as their two-year-old son Kawariki Te Raiona and his step-daughter Arahia.

After the news of Wainui’s death emerged, tributes poured in from the world of rugby.

“We are heartbroken right now. Sean, you were an inspiration and will never be forgotten,” the official All Blacks Twitter account wrote.

“We extend all of our strength and aroha to your friends and whanau.”

New Zealand Rugby said in a statement that it was a "dark day," while the Chiefs issued a heartfelt message of mourning. 

“One of Rugby New Zealand’s tallest totara trees has fallen in the world of rugby,” wrote the team. 

“To you Sean, our Rangatira, we farewell you to the outspread arms of the multitudes who await you beyond this earthly realm.

“You leave us here bereft and drowning in sorrow as we weep for you. Rest well in peaceful repose.”

Kiwi rugby icon Sonny Bill Williams tweeted his sadness, writing: “My thoughts are with Sean Wainui’s family. Especially his wife & young child.

"Although I didn’t play alongside him, I could always feel his mana coming up against him as his opposition.”

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