Devon rugby player Lily Partridge dies after head injury

Lily Partridge Image copyright Irving of Exeter
Image caption Lily Partridge had played for Exonian Ladies for about 18 months

A 22-year-old rugby player with a history of concussions has died after suffering a head injury during a match.

Lily Partridge collapsed by the side of the pitch after being injured at North Tawton's ground in Devon on Sunday.

Her life-support machine was switched off in hospital in Exeter on Monday night, her family confirmed.

Her club said she had suffered "a couple" of concussions previously, but had taken out the recommended time from playing and had consulted a doctor.

"She took a month off and was symptom free before she returned to playing," said Katie Lunnon, captain of the Topsham-based Exonian Ladies team.

The RFU is investigating the circumstances of the injury, which happened during the women's development tournament.

Image copyright Google
Image caption Lily Partridge was injured on Sunday at North Tawton's ground in Devon

Ms Partridge, who was a part-time teacher and also worked at Shaldon Zoo, had played for Exonian Ladies for about 18 months. She was also the club's social secretary.

Her parents Jeff and Liz, from Exeter, said: "No-one ever had a bad word to say about Lily. She was the glue that stuck everyone together.

"She was stubborn and would say, 'I can do this and I can do that'. She was her own person and that is what we loved about her.

"She broke down barriers. She was a brilliant star in our lives for 22 years."

They added that her organs had been donated to help other people.

"Hopefully one, two, three or more people will have a better quality of life thanks to Lily," they said.

Head injuries in rugby


of injuries during rugby matches are to the head

  • 6 concussions in every 1,000 player hours of professional rugby, around 1 in every 3 games

  • 1.2 concussions per 1,000 player hours in amateur rugby, around 1 in every 21 games

  • 95 concussions per 1,000 hours in amateur horse racing, 13 in professional boxing and 0.4 in football.


Reports of concussions in rugby have doubled in five years and both the English and Scottish rugby unions have said they are trying to increase awareness of concussion.

RFU guidelines state that adult players should have at least 19 days off after suffering concussion and after being cleared by a doctor.

Topsham Rugby Club called Ms Partridge a "talented, vivacious and universally-loved founding member of Exonian Ladies rugby team", adding that members were "utterly heartbroken".

More than 150 people have sent tributes to Lily on the BBC Spotlight Facebook page.

Symptoms of concussion

  • Loss of consciousness after a head injury
  • Periods of memory loss
  • Disturbances in vision, such as "seeing stars" or blurry vision
  • A period of confusion, a blank expression, or a delay in answering questions immediately after a head injury

Source: NHS Choices

Among them, Bud Rosewall wrote: "Very sad news from a tragic accident. Our thoughts are with the family, friends and the club at this very sad time. The Roseland RFC, Cornwall."

Naomi Gruitt wrote: "An absolute beaut of a girl and amazing friend and player."

In October 2014, a 23-year-old female rugby player died from brain injuries a month after she was injured in a tackle in a match.

Sarah Chesters, a full-back with Longton RFC, walked off the pitch and declined medical treatment. But a month on she felt sick and dizzy and died in hospital a week later.

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