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Rugby Deaths: Pro and Amateur Players Who Died on the Pitch

Rugby Deaths

Rugby is the national sport in many countries and in others it is one of the top two. It is a game of skill, speed, strength and power, but it is also a game that can be very dangerous. Many rugby players have died on the pitch or the sidelines playing the game they love and in this Rugby Deaths article we’ll take a look at some of these tragic cases.

Lily Partridge, 22

Young Lily Partridge is said to have suffered a “minor” collision during a practice match in late 2015. Reports suggest that it didn’t look too bad at the time and many say that they didn’t see the incident that caused the problem, but it led to Partridge suffering a blood clot, from which she died.

She had suffered from a few problems with concussion in the past, which suggests that this was a result of Second-Impact Syndrome, something that we have also discussed in our Boxing Deaths article and in our Football Deaths article. However, she had seen a doctor for these issues and she had been diagnosed as healthy, fit and capable of playing.

She had also been wearing a scrum-cap and a mouthguard, but she still collapsed after coming off the pitch feeling unwell and she still died from her injuries.

Evan Hawksworth, 14

Number of Rugby Deaths

In our MMA Deaths article we covered the story of a 15 year old who died in the ring. It’s always more tragic when kids die playing the sports they love and such was the case with Evan Hawksworth, who was just 14 when he passed. He was hit in the head during a game and he suffered a bleed on the brain. It seems that he received adequate and speedy medical attention, but the surgeons were unable to remedy the issue and he unfortunately passed away.

It was described as a “Freak accident”, with no suspicion of foul play. It left heartbroken parents, friends and fellow players in its wake.

Steven Jacobs, 38

A father of three, Jacobs was just 38 when he died playing rugby in 2017. He was a hooker who went by he nickname “Stevovo” and played for the amateur team Masiphumelele Rugby Club in South Africa.

The hooker was knocked out cold when he collided with a player on the opposing team. He broke his C3 vertebrae and while he was rushed to hospital and placed on life support, the injuries eventually led to his death.

The light at the end of this very dark tunnel is that the rugby community seem to have gathered in support of the deceased’s family, raising money in order to support them through what was clearly a very difficult time.

Rowan Stringer, 17

All rugby deaths are tragic, but as mentioned above, it’s worse when they are so young and this is another such case. Rowan Stringer was just 17 at the time of her death. She was playing high school rugby in Canada and died after she suffered from multiple concussions. Said to be a bright kid with a big future ahead of her, she had been accepted into the University of Ottawa’s nursing program and rugby seemed to have been an after-school activity or hobby at best, which makes it all the more tragic.

Anthony Foley’s Death

We put this here simply because it is the most requested story revolving around rugby deaths, even though he was a coach, not a player, and he didn’t die on the pitch.

Foley was the head coach of Irish rugby team Munster. His sudden death on October 16 2016 shocked the sport. He was a former player and was well regarded both as a player and a coach, working with Munster throughout his carer and also earning 65 caps for Ireland.

Anthony, who was nicknamed “Axel”, was just 42 when he died. The cause of death was listed as acute pulmonary edema resulting from heart disease.

Other Rugby Deaths

Many of the rugby players who died on the pitch were amateur players. Their deaths may have been the result of fewer medical checks and care, as well as limited fitness on behalf of the players. All of this means that Second-Impact Syndrome, pre-existing medical conditions and other such issues are more preventable.

In 2017, a player from Culcheth Eagles, who were in the fourth tier of a regional league, died on the sidelines aged just 31. In the same year it was also revealed that seven members of a Welsh rugby club had died in the space of six months, with some being young players and others being older members of staff.

There are also many rugby players who died in the prime of their careers from injuries or issues not related to the game. Sione Lauaki died when he was jut 35, suffering from potential heart or kidney problems. In 2016, two Kenyan players also died playing rugby. Ogeto Gecheo suffered a fatal injury, and just four days later Victor Wayodi had a cardiac arrest on the pitch.

Actual rugby deaths from higher level games are rare. However, we did find a news report from Ireland of player who died in 1913 following a collision. Apparently he was defending an attack and was dead within 10 minutes of the hit. There are also potential links to brain injuries and major issues at a later date.

It has been suggested that diseases like Motor Neurons Disease, also known as ALS, can be linked to rugby as it is known to occur in people who suffer repeated blows and are very active (although this is speculation and while there is a link, there is no proven cause). Former player Doddie Weir was diagnosed with it in 2017 at the age of 46 while Joost van der Westhuizen died of it aged just 45.

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For similar articles, make sure you take a look at our articles on Stage Deaths and MMA Deaths, as well as our Worst Ways to Die article. Okay, so we are morbid, we know that, but don’t pretend that you don’t enjoy reading this stuff! Like we always say, there’s no point hiding from the darker things in life, because it doesn’t make them any less real, but reading about them does help to make them less worrying and foreboding.