Final farewell to soldier and rugby star as funeral of Savenaca Koroibulileka takes place

There was standing room only as hundreds of people attended the funeral of Savenaca Koroibulileka this afternoon.

Savenaca, known to friends as Savy, Koro or Tu, tragically died on Saturday, September 24, after collapsing while playing rugby for Oakham.

Funeral of Savenaca Koroibulileka EMN-161014-180016001

Funeral of Savenaca Koroibulileka EMN-161014-180016001

A highly-respected solider and talented rugby player, Savenaca, 38, leaves behind a wife, Sili, and four sons – Ratu, Vili, Orisi and Kelepi.

His funeral was held at Oakham Rugby Club and attended by hundreds of friends and family members.

The coffin, draped in a Union Jack flag and topped off with Savenaca’s army cap, was carried into the building by Oakham Rugby Club players.

Floral tributes had been created with the word ‘Tu’ and ‘159’ - representing 159 Regiment Royal Logistic Corps, in which Savenaca served as a reservist after leaving 2nd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment in which he served for 11 years.

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

A choir sang traditional Fijian hymns and two pastors preached. Eulogies were given by military and rugby club representatives and also from Ratu – Savenaca’s eldest son, who had many in tears with a heartfelt tribute to his father.

Oakham Rugby Club coach Tim Andrews said: “I didn’t know you long, but you lit up the club. When you first came, I said ‘where do you play?’ and you said ‘in the forwards’. I said ‘where in the forwards?’ and you leaned in and said ‘I’m really a back, but I’ve lost all my pace, so anywhere in the forwards!’

“The first game without you was tough, but the boys did you proud. Your memory will live on and we’ll organise a game every year in your memory.

“The club has lost a brother, but gained a sister and four wonderful sons. We’ll help those boys become the man you were.”

Full report in next week’s paper.