Australia rugby league player dies after tackle

A rugby player has died in Australia
Image caption Some researchers say there is a link between head injuries sustained in rugby and dementia

A 28-year-old man has died in hospital after being tackled during an amateur rugby league game in rural Australia.

Officials attempted to resuscitate Grant Cook after he collapsed on the field on Sunday in Murwillumbah, in New South Wales.

The father-of-two was flown to Gold Coast University Hospital but died from his injuries overnight.

His wife, Colleen, said that Mr Cook's sudden death has "left a huge hole" in her heart.

Mr Cook - who had played rugby league all his life - received a head injury and went into cardiac arrest as a result of the tackle, the Gold Coast Bulletin reported.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption There are concerns about player safety in both rugby codes. File image

It said that New South Wales police were investigating the incident and were reviewing footage from the game before submitting a report to the coroner.

Police say that Mr Cook was injured just before half time and collapsed shortly afterwards. The attempt to resuscitate him was made before paramedics arrived.

Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League (NRRRL)'s Brian Rix was quoted by ABC News as saying that that Mr Cook required CPR on the side of the field after going "into some sort of fit or convulsion".

"He had to leave the field because he didn't feel great, he sat on the bench before he started to feel even worse," Mr Rix said.

"My beautiful husband Grant is now an angel watching over us," Colleen Cook wrote on Facebook.

"Life can be so cruel. He has left a huge hole in my heart and I know all the family, especially his parents, are hurting trying to understand this tragedy."

Social media reaction

"[My husband] died doing something he loved so passionately, and I guess that's how I have to look at it." (Colleen Cook on Facebook)

"Country Rugby League (CRL) send their sincere condolences to the family and friends of 28-year-old Grant Cook who tragically passed away whilst playing for the Murwillumbah Mustangs Rugby League Club. CRL will be offering counselling to the family and both teams who participated in the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League match." (CRL media release)

"It is with a very heavy heart that we wake up today, hearing the news of the passing of Grant Cook. Grant has been a member of the Giants family since he was a Jnr Giant, playing, coaching and being a committee member. No words can describe the sadness we are feeling." (Mullumbimby Giants Rugby League on Facebook)

Mr Cook, from the Gold Coast, had been playing for the Murwillumbah Mustangs in a game against the Casino Cougars.

His death comes amid increasing international concern about tackling safety in rugby union and rugby league, along with evidence released earlier this year of the link between head injuries received in the sport and dementia.

The last Australian to die playing the game was in June 2015, when Sunshine Coast Falcons front-row forward James Ackerman, 25, suffered a head injury in a tackle during a Queensland Cup match against the Norths Devils and later died in hospital.

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