Rugby Player Dies

4 May 2015, 11:44 | Updated: 4 May 2015, 12:47

Danny Jones

Tributes have been paid to an international rugby league player who has died after suffering a suspected cardiac arrest during a match in London.

Wales and Keighley Cougars half-back, who enjoyed a 12-year career, was taken off just four minutes into his club's League 1 game against London Skolars at the New River Stadium on Sunday afternoon after feeling unwell.

After collapsing at the side of the pitch, an air ambulance was called and Jones was taken by road to the Royal Free Hospital, where extensive efforts to resuscitate him failed. The match was abandoned shortly afterwards.

Jones, who was 29, leaves a wife, Liz, and five-month-old twins.

A club statement from Keighley said: "Danny was much loved and highly respected by all at the club and in rugby league.

"He was the life and soul in the dressing room, a natural leader, a true professional and irreplaceable. He achieved over 1,000 points and 150 appearances for Keighley Cougars and he will be sorely missed. We are devastated.

"Our hearts go out to Liz, his children and his family."

Jones also played for his home-town club Halifax and won 12 caps for Wales. He made his international debut against Italy in Wrexham in 2010 and his final Test was against Cook Islands in Neath in the 2013 World Cup.

Wales Rugby League chairman Brian Juliff said: "Everyone at Wales Rugby League is very shocked to hear of Danny's sudden passing. Our condolences go out to his family, friends and colleagues at this sad time."

A Halifax spokesman said: "He was a larger than life character, as befits a half-back, and was universally respected throughout the game.

"He will be sadly missed. Halifax RLFC sends its condolences to Danny's family and friends. They've lost a star."

RFL chief operating officer Ralph Rimmer said: "It is always devastating when someone so young dies in these circumstances. Danny was a popular and talented rugby league player, having played at the highest level with the Wales national team and playing over 12 seasons for Keighley Cougars and Halifax.

"The rugby league community will mourn his loss and I wish to extend our deepest sympathies to Danny's family and friends at this incredibly sad time. The family, friends and team-mates of Danny are currently and will continue to be supported by the RFL Benevolent Fund and Sporting Chance.

"We would ask that the privacy of the Jones family, players and Keighley Cougars staff be respected."

Jones is the second rugby league player in just over six years to die after collapsing during a match.

Wakefield forward Leon Walker, who was 20, fell ill during a Wildcats reserve game with Celtic Crusaders in Maesteg in March 2009. It was later discovered that he had an undiagnosed heart defect and a coroner ruled that he died from natural causes.

Just six months before then, Wakefield's Cook Island international Adam Watene, 31, died after collapsing during a training session.

Leeds half-back Chris Sanderson died on the pitch in a match against Salford in 1977.