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Tributes paid to Yorkshire rugby player who died after coming off pitch during game

Heworth ARLFC. picture courtesy of Google
Heworth ARLFC. picture courtesy of Google

Tributes are being paid on social media after a man died in a Yorkshire amateur rugby league match.

Birkenshaw player Max Blakeley, 32, collapsed after coming off the pitch in an away game at Heworth, near York, yesterday.

RFL interim Chief Executive Ralph Rimmer, said he was saddened by the news.

RFL interim Chief Executive Ralph Rimmer, said he was saddened by the news.

In a statement the Rugby Football League said: "Birkenshaw Rugby League Club are sorry to inform of the passing of 32-year-old Max Blakeley on Saturday July 14.

"Max came off the pitch and later became poorly. Paramedics were called but were unable to revive him. His family have requested privacy at this difficult time."

In a post on the public Birkenshaw ARLFC Masters Team Facebook page, Adam Lincoln wrote: "Birkenshaw Bluedogs ARLFC are devastated to confirm the passing of our friend and team-mate Maxwell Clinton Blakeley whilst representing us on the pitch yesterday.

"We would like to take this opportunity to thank our friends at Heworth ARLFC and the medics present, all of whom did everything possible to save Max's life."

"Thank you all for your messages of support and friendship. We will stand strong and look after each other as only the Rugby League family can."

On behalf of the Bluedogs Paul Bancroft wrote: "The whole club is in shock and our thoughts and prayers go out to Max's family at this sad time."

Heworth ARLFC posted on Twitter yesterday offering condolences to all at the club.

The Tweet said: "No words can describe what happened today at our Elmpark Way ground."

RFL interim Chief Executive Ralph Rimmer, said: “We are all incredibly saddened by news of the passing of Birkenshaw Rugby League Club's Max Blakeley.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Max's family and friends at this terrible time. The RL Benevolent Fund has been in contact and is already providing support.”

Mr Blakeley also played for Cleckheaton RUFC.

A post on the club's website today from chairman Neil Gillan said: "It is with the deepest sadness that we have to report the passing of Cleckheaton player Max Blakely.

"Max was playing summer rugby league for local club Birkenshaw when he felt unwell. He collapsed moments later and despite the best efforts of medical staff, he was unable to be revived.

"Max was a club stalwart and we are devastated. Sleep tight Max you will be sorely missed."

One tribute left on the site, by Andrew Clark, said: "Devastating news to hear about Max. He enjoyed his life whether up or down and nothing bothered him as long as he was with his mates playing the game he loved followed by a few beers.

"Max you will be sadly missed by everyone that had the pleasure of your company the whole of CRUFC and more recently the juniors who you helped to coach. Safe journey mate."

Rugby clubs including Keighley Cougars, Culcheth Eagles and Halifax RLFC have taken to Twitter to offer their thoughts and condolences.