Withycombe full-back Luke McLennan, who is studying to be a doctor, kept Paignton Veterans prop Adam Wyatt alive using CPR until paramedics arrived at their match in Devon.
Eventually Wyatt’s heart was restarted using a defibrillator, but the 22-year-old McLennan was praised for keeping the 51-year-old father of two alive.
"It happened very quickly, I have never seen anything like this on a pitch before,” McLennan, who is studying medicine at Peninsula Medical School in Exeter, said.
"Any student in my position with my knowledge would have done the same thing - it was more luck than management, to be honest.
"He was dead for 22 minutes, and if you look at the statistics, not many people will survive that so it is pretty amazing."
Wyatt spent a month in hospital but has made a full recovery. He has since been reunited with his saviour, and has quit playing rugby.
"The heart attack was completely out of the blue, I have never had any problems with my health or my heart before,” he said.
"I am so thankful for Luke for what he has done for me and my family, massively thankful, I really can't thank him enough.
"To be dead for 22 minutes is a bit scary, it just puts everything into perspective of what I could have lost, I have finally now decided to hang up my boots and retire."
Wyatt knows exactly how important McLennan’s intervention was, although strangely he was one of the few other people on the pitch that day who would have been able to do the same – he works as a consultant nurse.