The Helensville Rugby Club was shocked and deeply saddened by the sudden death of Leah Potaufa during a pre-season game against Tomarata at the Helensville club grounds on February 28th. Leah collapsed towards the end of the match and, despite the efforts of club members and emergency services, the 43-year-old was unable to be revived.
Leah first played for Helensville as a 19-year-old in 1995 as a block busting midfielder or winger and was a regular member of the 1996 team which contested the North Harbour Premier final against Takapuna. His outstanding form earned him selection in the North Harbour Colts side, and he was spotted by the Taranaki NPC selectors and drafted into their NPC squad for 1998 and 1999. During this time Leah locked horns with the élite of New Zealand rugby, including Christian Cullen, Jonah Lomu and Jeff Wilson.
After his time in Taranaki, Leah returned to Auckland playing for his local Manukau club before returning to Helensville in 2003 for a few more seasons. He played five seasons of professional rugby for French 2nd Division club Los-Le-Saunier in the early 2010’s before finally returning home to be with his growing family and continuing to play the game he loved in the tough Auckland competition.
When the Helensville Rugby club was unable to field a team in 2018, club member Andy Cummings managed to track Leah down and asked him if he was able to help source players so Helensville could get a team back on the field.” Leah was instrumental in helping us get back on our feet in 2018,” says Cummings. “Some nights at training Leah would arrive with 13 players in his van. Without him we wouldn’t have had the numbers to field a side.”
The Red, Gold and Blacks had an outstanding season, winning the Gordon Lancaster trophy off Kumeu, and the Reuben Paniora trophy off Massey, and made the North Harbour Premier 2 semi-finals.
Leah made a huge contribution to the Helensville Community and Rugby Club over 25 years and will be sorely missed. Our deepest condolences go out to his beautiful wife Aloa and his children.
Rest in Peace Leah, SALUTE.