Tributes flow as second English rugby player dies on Sri Lanka tour


Amateur players Thomas Baty and Thomas Howard were in Sri Lanka with their local rugby club.

Two English amateur rugby players who died within days of each other during a tour of Sri Lanka are being remembered by those who knew them and the wider sporting community. 

Thomas Baty, 26, and Thomas Howard, 25, both died after they were admitted to hospital with breathing difficulties.

The men, both from Durham in northeast England, were in Sri Lanka with their teammates from their local rugby team Clems Pirates RFC, where alongside friendly matches, they were also engaged in charity work.

The men visited a nightclub in Colombo on Saturday night, and shortly after, they were both admitted to hospital.

According to a police statement, Mr Howard died soon after arriving at the hospital while his teammate was transferred to the intensive care unit of a private hospital, where he died on Tuesday.

The Clem's Pirates rugby team
The Clems Pirates rugby team.
Durham City RFC

Prior to visiting the club, the men had played a friendly match against a local rugby team.

In a statement, the club said their breathing issues were not rugby-related, and also thanked people for their support.

Thomas Baty.
Thomas Baty.
Durham City RFC

Tributes have poured in on social media for the athletes, with many other local clubs offering their condolences.

The Clem’s Pirates said they will continue their charity work in Galle, a city in Sri Lanka’s southwest, as a mark of respect to Mr Howard and Mr Baty.

“Clem’s Pirates will go ahead with their planned charity work and rugby kit donation before the end of the tour,” the statement said.

“The deceased players were at the forefront of efforts to ensure the global rugby family supports its own wherever and whenever possible.”

Investigations into the deaths are continuing.

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