Leeds & West Yorkshire

Bradford amateur rugby league player dies during match

Max Blakeley Image copyright Cleckheaton RUFC
Image caption Max Blakeley, 32, died during a match against Heworth on Saturday

An amateur rugby league player has died after becoming unwell during a Yorkshire Men's League match.

Max Blakeley was playing for Bradford-based club Birkenshaw Bluedogs in a match at Heworth near York on Saturday afternoon.

The 32-year-old came off the pitch at half time and become unwell before collapsing.

The Rugby League Benevolent Fund said paramedics were called but were unable to revive him.

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Image copyright Heworth ARLFC
Image caption Cleckheaton RUFC said Mr Blakely had been playing rugby league with the Birkenshaw Bluedogs during the summer

The Yorkshire Men's League (YML) management committee said: "It is with profound sadness that we can confirm Birkenshaw player Max Blakeley tragically passed away during a match at Heworth.

"The RFL has been informed. The YML have sent their deepest condolences."

Ralph Rimmer, Rugby Football League chief executive, 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 Rugby League Benevolent Fund has been in contact and is already providing support."

'Club stalwart'

In a statement released by Cleckheaton RUFC the club said Mr Blakeley had been playing rugby league with Birkenshaw during the summer.

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

Dozens of tributes have been paid to the player on social media, including from Lizzie Jones, whose husband Danny died after collapsing during a match in May 2015.

She posted on Twitter: "So so sad to hear of the passing of @BirkenshawARLFC player Max Blakeley.

"My prayers, love and strength are with Max's family, friends and team mates at this very sad time. Fly high Max."

Keighley Cougars tweeted that everyone at the club was devastated:

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