Scrum machine accidents very rare - Rugby Union

9:04 pm on 14 December 2018

The Auckland Rugby Union says the death of a four-year-old girl in a rugby scrum machine incident is extremely rare.

Manurewa Rugby Club in Mountfort Park

A Manurewa local said children played in the area all the time. Photo: RNZ / Jessie Chiang

The accident happened near the Manurewa Rugby Club rooms in Mountfort Park yesterday evening while her family was present.

Her death comes nine years after former All Black Keven Mealamu's 6-year-old niece died after being crushed by a scrum machine.

Donnie Rihari, who is a regular user of the fields at the park, said he saw children in the area all the time.

"This area's a very nice area, I know we have our labels - South Auckland," he said.

"But especially around Mountfort Park it's a good place for the community.

"Kids of all ages use this park, well so to hear that that happened, it's a real tragedy."

The Auckland Rugby Union said usually scrum machines are very safe.

Head of operations and facilities Matt McHardy said injuries were not common.

"We have obviously injuries from playing the game on the field or at training but nothing involving machinery like this," he said.

"It's very rare."

Manurewa Rugby Club in Mountfort Park

Photo: RNZ / Jessie Chiang

While the Auckland Rugby Union does not govern the club in Manurewa, Mr McHardy said it had notified the 17 clubs it did oversee about storing their scrum machines properly.

"That they're not leant up against the wall with the ability to fall and preferably stored away in a shed or a container when not in use," he said.

A member of the Manurewa Rugby Club who was at its premises today declined to speak to RNZ.

The Counties Manukau Rugby Football Union, which governs the club, did not respond to requests for comment.

Karakia at Mountfort Park

About 100 people gathered at Mountfort Park on Friday evening and a karakia was said and the site was blessed after the young girl's death.

Labour MP Louisa Wall attended and described the death as a real tragedy and said there was a lot of support available for the girl's family and friends should they need it.

No caption

Flowers at the vigil for a four-year-old girl who was killed in a scrum machine incident at Mountfort Park. Photo: RNZ / Nita Blake-Persen