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Tributes to British rugby player who died on Sri Lanka tour

Thomas Howard, 25, was admitted to hospital in Colombo after suffering breathing problems.

A British amateur rugby player who died on a tour in Sri Lanka has been named as 25-year old Thomas Howard.

Durham City Rugby Football Club also named Mr Howard’s teammate who remains in hospital in the city of Colombo as 26-year old Tom Baty.

Both men were admitted to hospital after suffering breathing problems on Sunday.

They had travelled to Sri Lanka to tour with one of the club’s teams called the Clems Pirates.

Their breathing issues were not rugby-related, the club said.

No further details of the fatal incident were provided by the club.

Mr Baty is continuing to receive treatment in hospital.

The club confirmed the names of the Durham natives on Monday evening in a statement which said: “The Howard and Baty families have requested that their right to privacy is respected.”

Durham City RFC president Richard Wilkinson said: “On behalf of all members and friends of the DCRFC family we would like to extend our sincere condolences to the family of Thomas Howard.”

Mr Wilkinson also extended his best wishes to Mr Baty and those in Sri Lanka supporting him.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with you all,” he said.

“Both players and Clems Pirates hold a special place in our rugby family, and our continued support is unconditional.”

Mr Wilkinson added: “We will also continue to support the Clems Sri Lankan tour party by being in regular contact with senior club officials out in Sri Lanka.”

The club president also thanked people for the many message of sympathy and support that have been received from members, friends and the wider rugby family.

“They are very much appreciated at this difficult time,” he said.

Durham County Councillor David Boyes said Durham City RFC was a very well organised, well equipped organisation and oversaw a number of teams.

He said the club had organised numerous tours abroad in the past and had never had any problems before.

“I really feel for the families, being that far away and knowing that a family member has died must be terrible,” he said.

Durham County Councillor Richard Ormerod said it was very sad news for all those involved.

“My thoughts are with the families and friends and team-mates,” the councillor said.

He added that Clems Pirates was well known in the community.

They do a lot of good work raising money for charity and introducing people to rugby, he said.

England rugby player Tamara Taylor was among those offering their sympathies on social media.

She tweeted: “Unbelievably tragic news. Sending love to all at Clems Pirates and @DurhamCityRFC #RugbyFamily.”

Neil Foster, chief executive of Tynedale RFC wrote: “Tragic news. My thoughts are with both families, all @DurhamCityRFC & the #Clemsmen stuck out in Colombo.”

Aaron Tillyer wrote: “Such sad news from my old rugby club @DurhamCityRFC.

“Thoughts and prayers at this difficult time. RIP.”

A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said they were assisting families of two British men.

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