Batley Bulldogs and Dewsbury Moor player found dead in hotel room was a 'ray of light'

Archie Bruce
Archie Bruce

Tributes have been paid to a Batley Bulldogs and former Dewsbury Moor rugby league player who was found dead in a hotel bedroom in France.

Archie Bruce, 20, was in Toulouse, France, playing his debut match against the local team on Saturday.

He was found dead in the early hours of Sunday morning.

A statement from former club Dewsbury Moor said: "Archie was truly loved at Dewsbury Moor by all, he first joined the club at the age of 5 years old raring to go upon reaching his 6th Birthday.

"Archie was always the most spritely of kids and never stood still, this was a trait that was to become his trademark on the field.

"Rising through the ranks at the Maroons Archie played in any position asked and excelled in all! It was clear from a young age that Archie had talent most of his teammates craved.

"Archie was brave beyond his years and never shied away from the physical side of the game, albeit he seemed to slip under the radar when the scholarship scouts came looking and to the amazement of all at the club never got into the junior 'professional system', this never deterred Archie, in truth it spurred him on to prove all in the game he had all the tools required to play at the professional level.

"At the age of 16 he made his debut in the Marrons openage NCL team and he was a key figure in the rise of the Maroons through the NCL leagues. Always the youngest, generally one of the smallest he overcame everything in front of him and took on the best the amateur game could throw at him, coming out on top more times than not.

"It wasn’t long before the professional game finally noticed Archie and at the age of 19 he was invited to train with Batley Bulldogs whilst maintaining his amateur status and playing with the moor, a tactic Batley Bulldogs head coach Mat Diskin said suited Archie best as “he was definitely one for the future”.

"Archie grasped the opportunity with both hands, with the support of his family he took a sabbatical from work and threw himself into getting his body ready for a career in rugby league.

"With Archie hitting the gym three times a week, training with Batley and the Moor he got better and better and it showed, the 2019 season with the Moor saw young Archie come to life, he out played those around him collecting the Man of the Match in most games he played, this didn’t go unnoticed and Batley finally gave him his chance.

"Archie set off to Toulouse the happiest young man alive, he made his debut for the Bulldogs and all the talk in France was wow, who is this kid, the rest unfortunately is simply unthinkable.Personally Archie was a likely lad, with two brothers and a young sister all too playing at the Moor he came from a rugby league family a family now left devasted.

"He was always the life and soul, loved life, loved rugby league and never did he not have a smile on a face, life was just getting good for Archie and its incomprehensible what’s happened.

"All at Dewsbury Moor are totally devastated, there will always be a hole, a hole that will never be filled. The world of rugby league has lost a future star, a star that could have gone a long way, we have lost a friend, a teammate, a ray of light.

"Archie should be a role model to others, to follow your dream and never give in, he showed the “system” isn’t the only way and the good always rise to the top!

"Archie’s family have a tough time ahead and we at the club ask everybody respects their space during this horrendous time.

"He will always be loved and never forgotten the club will ensure his memory lives on."

A statement issued by Batley Bulldogs chairman Kevin Nicholas said on Sunday: "Batley Bulldogs are greatly saddened to announce the passing of their player Archie Bruce (20) who was found in his hotel bedroom early this morning having made his debut against Toulouse the previous evening.

"Archie's immediate family have been informed.

"Batley Bulldogs, the RFL and the RFL Benevolent Fund will be supporting the family while enquiries by the French authorities continue, with the club squad delaying their return to the UK.

"The Bruce family have requested privacy during this most difficult of times."