Racing 92’s pre-match tribute to retired Virimi Vakatawa
After former France and Racing 92 centre Virimi Vakatawa sadly had to prematurely end his career this week due to a heart condition, his teammates paid him a fitting tribute today ahead of their Top 14 contest against Bayonne.
The 30-year-old was recently banned by the Ligue Nationale de Rugby because of this condition, which was first detected prior to the 2019 World Cup, and he subsequently retired this week.
“I didn’t feel any symptoms or anything,” Vakatawa. “I had a discussion with the doctor. I have nothing broken, everything is fine. I’m going to stay not far from here, just to clear my head.
“I arrived at 17, I didn’t regret leaving my family at all. I know it was hard. I always tell young people that they were lucky to be here. There are Fijians who will still arrive, I want to help them. I really appreciated having so many people by my side.”
Well his teammates paid tribute to the 32-cap France international by wearing shirts with ‘Virimi’ on the front and the number 13 on the back during their warm-up at the at the Stade Jean Dauger.
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This is what France head coach Fabien Galthie said after Vakatawa retired: “I would like to thank Racing 92 for allowing me to be here today.
“I wanted to accompany Virimi, it’s special so I’m very moved. Fate has meant that he will have played his last two games with Les Bleus in Japan. We will try to get over all that because we know that it can happen in high-level sport, but we still take it [the shock retirement] with full force.
“Monday, when he called me, it touched me. Virimi made many children dream. When we took over the France team, he was a key player in our adventure, in our history. He is an example of what he lives – we must tell our children to enjoy all their matches as if it were the last.”