World Rugby and the Rugby community have paid tribute to legendary commentator and Tongan International Willie Los’e, who passed away aged 55 on Wednesday.
Los’e plied his trade in NPC for Auckland and North Harbour in the 1990s, going on to play three games for Tonga at the 1995 Rugby World Cup.
He would go on to become an icon of the broadcast game, becoming one of the voices of Sevens and Women's Rugby for over two decades.
The former co-captain of Tonga passed away in Cape Town, where he was preparing to call the Rugby Sevens World Cup before heading to New Zealand for the Women's World Cup.
"On behalf of World Rugby and the global rugby family we send our sincere and heartfelt thoughts and condolences to the family, friends, colleagues and former teammates of Willie Los’e, who sadly passed away in South Africa on Wednesday, aged 55," Sir Bill Beaumont, World Rugby Chairman, said in a statement via World Rugby.
"A former Tonga international, playing as a lock and co-captaining his country at Rugby World Cup 1995, Willie has been a popular and much loved voice of rugby since finishing his playing days and was preparing to commentate on Rugby World Cup Sevens 2022 in Cape Town, which begins on Friday.
"Willie played provincial grade rugby in New Zealand for Auckland and North Harbour in the 1990s, as well as time spent at Yamaha in Japan during his playing career before becoming a successful and well respected TV and radio broadcaster, principally with Sky Sport NZ. In a distinguished career behind the microphone Willie commentated at four previous Rugby World Cup Sevens’ and four Rugby World Cup’s in the women’s game spanning from 1997 to 2018.
"We pay tribute to a gentleman of the game, on and off the pitch, who will be sadly missed by all who knew, worked and played with him."
Fellow commentators Greg Clark and Sean Maloney are amongst a plethora in the Rugby community who have paid their respects to the larger-than-life character.
"So sad to hear that our great mate Willie Los’e has passed away in Cape Town while preparing to call @WorldRugby7s," Clark said via social media.
"So many great memories on the 7s commentary circuit. Another gone too soon.
"Thoughts are with his Family and many friends. RIP Willie."
The Rugby World lost a really, really special one today in Willie Los’e," Maloney added.
"He showed many of us the way in commentary and was always smiling when he did. A great man who genuinely loved the game and who will be deeply and sadly missed."