Oakland Warthog Youth Rugby Club Tragedy

February 27, 2013

A lot of you are aware that we had four recruits visiting us last weekend from the Oakland Warthog RFC.  You may have seen them being escorted around campus on Friday and Saturday and, if you were at the WWU Women’s Basketball game, you may have seen them there.

What you didn’t know was that their hearts were heavy.  Heavy knowing that memorial services were being held in Oakland for four of their friends and fellow rugby players while they boys were in Bellingham.

The four were killed in a tragic traffic accident while on their way back from the Las Vegas Invitational Tournament that was held the weekend of February 9th.  The Warthogs had entered a team in the tournament and these kids were headed home to Oakland when the tragedy occurred.  Here is a link to the newspaper account of the accident:

Contra Costa Times

The player’s coach, Ryan Burke, knew that college opportunities like the trip to Bellingham to visit Western, didn’t come along every day for kids from Oakland.  Burke urged the boys to take the trip, not cancel, in part because he knew that their fallen friends would have wanted the boys to seize the opportunity.

Coach Paul Horne and Coach Adam Roberts who helped host the four, along with several of the WWU Men’s Rugby players, commented on the great attitude and the humble presence of the boys, knowing the emotions that must have been churning inside.

Who were the three ruggers that passed away?  Their Coach Ryan Burke passed along the following:

David “Momo” Moa 8 Man for the Oakland Warthogs 2011 NCYRA Varsity Silver Division Championship Team, son of David Moa of the Oakland Barbarians Men’s Team. David Moa was a great kid and teammate that always showed up to practice and loved playing sports and being a part of a team. He was a load to bring down. He was often quiet although he was a singer in his family band Valufa. He was often quiet with a serious look on his face, so it was always a joy to get him to smile. He was attending and playing football at Laney College.

Soasi “George” Moa Tight Head Prop for the Oakland Warthogs 2011 NCYRA Varsity Silver Division Championship Team, son of Lani Moa of the Oakland Barbarians Men’s Team. He was a joy to have around and always showed up on game day to compete for most meters after contact as well as broken tackles. He became more committed as the season went along and played a big part of us being a championship team. He was always good about cracking a joke at the right time and getting teammates to laugh and smile.

Rachel Fisi’iahi played front row for the Alameda Riptide team in the 2010-11 season. She always came ready to play, and her sense of humor and kindness were beloved by many both on and off the field. Rachel was always willing to put in extra work and time, and it showed on the field with her bruising runs. Rachel graduated from Oakland High School in 2011 and was a student at CCSF. She will be missed greatly by the Alameda Rugby family.

Malia Moa was David Moa’s youngest sister who played the keyboard in the band Valufa. She was just like older brother, except not so quiet. She was fun to be around and wanted everybody to be happy and have a good time. She could be found cheering at every rugby game that David played in. She was a Senior at Castlemont High School, in Oakland.

There has been a fund set up to help the families with expenses and if you’d like to contribute please click on this link:


The WWU Men’s Rugby Alumni Association has made a donation on behalf of the WWU Men’s Rugby Club.  Our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of all those involved in this tragic accident.

Coach Ryan Burke’s contact information is as follows if you’d like to get in touch with him:

Ryan Burke, President  (burke4rugby@gmail.com)

Oakland Warthogs Youth Rugby Program