RUGBY teams have paid tribute to a veteran player who died after collapsing during a match at Woodrush Rugby Football Club.
Chris ‘Billy’ Partridge, aged 58, suffered a suspected heart attack just minutes into the match to mark the club’s 50th anniversary.
He was taking part in a veterans match for Woodrush, where he used to play when he lived and worked in the Birmingham area, against Redditch.
The match was to be a replay of Woodrush’s first ever match against Redditch, held on the same day, in 1966.
Despite the best efforts of the emergency services and first aiders, Mr Partridge was pronounced dead on arrival at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.
In a statement on the Woodrush Rugby Football Club’s Facebook page, chairman Andy Gibbs said: “Woodrush RFC are very sad to announce the tragic loss of former first team number 8.
“Thank you to all those who have sent messages of support to his family and the rugby club.”
Speaking to the Redditch Advertiser, Mr Gibbs said he was unable to comment further as an inquest into Mr Partridge’s death is due to be held.
Mr Guy, a former North Midlands referee, suggested Mr Partridge join Woodrush when he moved into the Birmingham area from Gloucestershire in the late 80s.
He said: “I was stunned by the news that Chris had tragically died. “When he joined a local property developer in the Birmingham area I introduced him to Woodrush RFC where he enjoyed playing rugby. “Our paths crossed many times over the years, the last being at Woodrush’s 50th anniversary dinner at the end of August. “Chris never lost the love of the game, his enthusiasm was infectious. My sincere sympathies to Woodrush RFC and to Chris’s family in their devastating loss.”
Mr Partridge was a well-known player and sponsor at Painswick Rugby Club. Painswick RFC chairman Julian Mitchell said: “Chris was doing what he loved which is playing sport. “Chris started playing Rugby at Painswick at the age of 15 and was a member of the successful Colts teams under the guidance of John Hogg, that were highly successful in county youth rugby in the following years.”
Following his death, the veterans’ match was abandoned and Woodrush’s scheduled Midlands Three West (South) match against Rugby St Andrews was postponed as a mark of respect.
Mr Partridge, who was a well-known as a cricketer, leaves behind partner, Jackie, who was a spectator at the match, and his three children Will, Charlotte and Emma.
A funeral date is not yet known.