Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 1 August 2015

Rugby player dies on pitch

By Claire McNeilly

Published 15/06/2009 | 01:02

Stunned team-mates saw a 31-year-old rugby player die suddenly on the pitch at the weekend.

Graham Ryans, a teacher from Bangor and a member of the local club, was playing touch rugby when he collapsed.

His colleagues made desperate attempts to resuscitate the father-of-two while paramedics rushed to the grounds at Ballymacormick Road in Bangor shortly before 1pm on Saturday.

Mr Ryans was taken to the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald, but never regained consciousness.

It is believed the former seconds captain may have suffered a heart attack, but an autopsy will be carried out this week to determine the exact cause of death.

The incident is a chilling throwback to the tragedy of 18-year-old Armagh schools rugby captain John McCall, who died from cardiac failure on the pitch five years ago.

And Tyrone county GAA captain Cormac McAnallen also died suddenly when apparently at the peak of his fitness.

Tributes last night came pouring in from Mr Ryans’ colleagues at Bangor Rugby Club.

Craig Cooper, cecond team coach, said that everyone was still “shocked” and “devastated”.

“He was a fantastic club man and family man as well,” he said.

“He will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him. My condolences go out to his family.”

Club chairman Norman Gault said:“Everybody at the club is shocked and saddened that this has happened,” he said.

“It hasn’t sunk in with a lot of people. He was a very well-liked guy. It was a total surprise for everyone.

“It’s a very, very sad loss of the club and a very sad loss for his family.”

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