‘Exemplary’ soldier Savenaca Koroibulileka remembered by army chiefs

Savenaca Koroibulileka, who died after collapsing while playing rugby for Oakham EMN-160928-154540001

Savenaca Koroibulileka, who died after collapsing while playing rugby for Oakham EMN-160928-154540001

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‘A perfect role model for other soldiers’ and an ‘exemplary infanteer’ – that’s how army chiefs will remember Savenaca Koroibulileka.

As previously reported in the Mercury, the married 38-year-old father-of-four tragically died playing rugby for Oakham on Saturday, September 24.

Private Koroibulileka, known to friends as Savy, Koro or Tu, joined the British Army from Fiji in October 2003, initially enlisting with 2nd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment.

He left the regular army in 2014, but a strong desire to continue his military service saw Koro join 159 Regiment Royal Logistic Corps as a reservist in July 2015.

Later wishing to return to full-time military service, Koro joined the Military Provost Guard Service in August 2016.

He was assigned to St George’s Barracks in North Luffenham and only just beginning in his new role when he tragically died.

Paying tribute on behal of 2nd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, Captain Sam Graham said: “The tragic death of Savenaca Koroibulileka is a devastating loss to all who knew him, but especially to his family, to whom his extended family at the 2nd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment send their deepest sympathies and condolences.

“A perfect role model for other private soldiers, he was an exemplary infanteer. Serving around the world, both on and off operations, including tours of Northern Ireland and Iraq, Koro worked tirelessly in any role he was given.

“A star of the battalion rugby team, his natural rugby talent was unquestionable.

“Summed up by a friend from 2nd Battalion the Royal Anglian Regiment, Koro was ‘a big strong rugby player, who always found time to stop and talk. He was guaranteed to cheer you up and make you laugh’.”

In a statement, 159 Regiment said Koro was “good humoured, larger than life and totally professional”, with a “rare warmth that drew people towards him”.

Former soldier David Smiter, who served alongside Koro in the Poachers, started a JustGiving fundraising page to raise money for his wife Sili and their four sons. The total raised has now topped £10,000 and David intends to present the money to the family after Koro’s funeral which will be held at Oakham Rugby Club next Friday.