A WELSH international rugby league player has died after suffering a suspected cardiac arrest during a match.
Keighley Cougars half-back Danny Jones, 29, who was a father of five-month-old twins, collapsed after being replaced early in League 1 match at London Skolars.
Danny was a popular and talented rugby league playerRalph Rimmer
He was treated by the match doctor and paramedics at the ground in north London on Sunday before being taken to the Royal Free Hospital.
But the Rugby Football League (RFL) said that despite extensive efforts to resuscitate him, Jones died at the hospital that night.
His club paid tribute to him in a statement posted on Twitter, saying their thoughts were with his widow, Liz, and their children.
“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,” they said. “He achieved over 1,000 points and 150 appearances for Keighley Cougars and he will be sorely missed.”
Jones had been taken off after only four minutes of the match at the New River Stadium in White Hart Lane after apparently complaining of feeling unwell.
An air ambulance was called but he was taken by road to the Royal Free and the game was abandoned.
A London Ambulance Service spokesman said the city’s air ambulance and two vehicle crews had been sent to the scene and found the patient suffering cardiac arrest.
The RFL’s 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 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.”
Jones, who was in his second spell with Keighley after playing for Halifax, made his Wales debut against Italy in 2010 and won the last of his 12 caps in a World Cup group match against Cook Islands in Neath in November 2013.
Wigan forward Ben Flower, a team-mate during the 2013 world cup, paid tribute.
He tweeted: “My thoughts are with Danny’s family. Worst possible news. What a great man and even better friend. He will be missed so much. #RIPDannyJones.”
Wales RL tweeted: “All at Wales rugby league would like to send our condolences to the family and friends of Danny Jones after his sad passing today.”
A spokesman for the players’ association, League 13, said: “Our deepest sympathy and condolences go to the family of Danny Jones.”
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 earlier, in October 2008, Wakefield’s Cook Island international Adam Watene, 31, died after collapsing during a training session.