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Former Ukrainian Rugby Union Captain Oleksii Tsibko Dies Defending Country

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Former Ukrainian Rugby Union Captain Oleksii Tsibko Dies Defending Country

Ukraine's former national rugby union captain, Oleksii Tsibko, has sadly died defending his country against Russian forces.

Tsibiko, who became president of the Ukrainian Rugby Federation from 2003 until 2005, also served as mayor of the Ukrainian town Smela from 2015 to 2018.

The 55-year-old was killed near Bucha on March 31, however, his death was only confirmed this week.

President of Rugby Europe, Octavian Morariu confirmed the news in an announcement via Twitter.

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He said: “Even though I hoped that these news won’t be confirmed, unfortunately, I can now sadly say that Oleksi Tsibko, former captain of the Ukrainian national team, former president of the Ukrainian Rugby Union and also Mayor of Smela City died defending his town and his country.

“May he Rest in Peace and be always remembered.”

Bucha sits north-west of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and has become a focal point of the attacks from Russia, with horrific images of mass graves in the street appearing online.  

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Tributes for Tsibko from the rugby community have poured in. 

World Rugby Chairman and former England captain Sir Bill Beaumont lent his condolences. 

He tweeted: “On UN Sports Day, our thoughts are with the Ukraine rugby family who are facing such incredible challenges at present.

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"We also remember those who have been victims of the recent violence, including the former union president Oleksii Tsibko.

“We stand with Ukraine in condemning this needless violence & will continue offer solidarity & friendship.”

MP for Montgomeryshire, Craig Williams also paid his respects, tweeting: “Rugby brings us all together and makes this news and this sorry chapter of history all the more sad.

“That said huge respect to Oleksi Tsibko for defending freedom and paying the ultimate price for his friends, neighbours and country.”

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Rugby Union presenter, Elma Smit tweeted: “Spoke with a variety of leading figures in rugby in Ukraine recently and the message was clear: please help us to get talented young rugby players out. 

“We’ll stay and fight, just help us save the kids.”

Really tragic scenes coming out of the country.

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A farewell service for Tsibko will be held in his honour at Kyiv’s Baykove cemetery.

Featured Image Credit: Twitter/Octavian Morariu. ZUMA Press, Inc. / Alamy.

Topics: Rugby Union, Russia, Ukraine

Jayden Collins

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