Young referee's quick-thinking helps save Wellington rugby player's life after they stop breathing

The quick-thinking of a young referee has led to a 14-year-old boy's life being saved after he stopped breathing during a schoolboy rugby match.

Monique Dalley. Source: New Zealand Rugby

Monqiue Dalley happened to be on the sideline of and under-15s clash between Wellington College and St Patrick's Silverstream on Saturday because she was set to officiate a game on the same field afterwards.

It turned out to be a life-changing coincidence after Wellington College player Punaarika O'Sullivan, also known as Puna, was knocked out by a heavy collision in the match.

Dalley saw Puna was in trouble and immediately ran on to the field to help. She told NZ Herald it was something anyone would have done.

"My instincts kicked in," Dalley said.

"I went over, saw a player on the ground and went down to assess what was happening and saw he was knocked out and just jumped into first aid mode.

"He was breathing not very well and it just got significantly worse to the point where he wasn't really breathing at all. It was pretty horrible."

Dalley performed CPR on Puna and was also on the phone with emergency services getting advice before the ambulance arrived and took over. Puna eventually regained consciousness and was taken to hospital before being discharged on Sunday.

While Puna was in hospital, Dalley - who had only completed a first aid course last week - went in to check on him with flowers and chocolates.

"I went in to check on him in hospital and he was like a completely different person - that was really cool to reconnect and see that he was all good."

Puna was diagnosed with concussion, meaning he is stood down from contact for three weeks - but the experience hasn't stopped him from wanting to play the game.

"He's all ready to go," his dad told NZ Herald.