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Promising Fijian rugby player killed on duty

January 4, 2011

The first British Army soldier killed in Afghanistan this year was a Fijian who played for the army’s rugby union sevens team, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said Monday.

Private Joseva Vatubua, 24, was killed on New Year’s Day by an improvised explosive device as he targeted enemy firing positions in the restive southern Helmand province.

Born in Fiji’s capital Suva, he joined the British Army in 2007 and was one of the stars of his battalion’s rugby team, which won the 2010 Army Community Shield, the MoD said.

Tipped to rise the military ranks, he had also recently begun representing the British Army at rugby sevens.

Fijian colleagues said he had tried out for the island nation’s under-21s.

"His scale was colossal; he dominated the front row, dwarfed his machine gun and delivered fiery, martial passion in abundance," said Vatubua’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Harrison.

Vatubua leaves behind his wife Claudette.

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