Vatos’ Greene speaks out on fatal crash

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By Dave Kavanaugh

As fundraising efforts continue to help the victims of the Sept. 15 rollover accident that claimed the life of a member of the Vatos rugby club, the club’s founding coach and faculty adviser issued a public statement on the crash and its fallout.

Alani Tuineau, 51, died in the crash, which occurred  on I-25 near Santa Fe as they and other teammates were returning to Las Vegas from a day of rugby.

Dick Greene, a longtime New Mexico Highlands engineering professor who founded the Vatos in 1992, provided the Optic with his remarks:

“By the dynamic nature of the game, rugby players let their teammates know they are near them in support. They are ready and willing to  accept pain and fatigue to the relief of the focal player. In close contact they shout ‘with you,’ a mantra of the game. To Alani Tuineau, (wife) Tina Sione and (daughter) Sepa Sione, the NMHU Vatos cry out ‘with you.’

“Because a tire suddenly lost its tensile strength, a daughter lost a fine father, and a wife lost a humble husband. We lost a friend and fellow rugby man. With this tragic event the game of rugby becomes irrelevant, unimportant, dew in a hot sun. All focus and support is on Tina and Sepa.”

Greene said the Vatos ultimately postponed the team’s scheduled home match with El Paso this past Saturday until the spring. Earlier in the week, as reported in an Optic story, the club had planned to play that match.

“It is time to reflect and to resolve to become better people and citizens,” Greene said, “to realize the worth of life and the light luxury of playing games.”

“Yes, the Vatos will return shortly to defend their standard and expected local championship. Again, they tend to qualify and compete at the regional and national level. They have a positive national reputation to maintain as hard gentlemen who come from a very small community, compete with large demographics, and quietly respect the game and their contestants. They smile when they leave.”

“Alani would agree. His daughter and wife will recover and continue to witness. The NMHU Vatos will carry on.”