British rugby players die from 'breathing difficulties' on Sri Lanka tour

Two British rugby players on a tour of Sri Lanka have died just a couple of days apart.Thomas Baty and Thomas ...

Posted: May 15, 2018 4:21 PM
Updated: May 15, 2018 4:21 PM

Two British rugby players on a tour of Sri Lanka have died just a couple of days apart.

Thomas Baty and Thomas Howard of Durham, England, were both admitted to hospital in Colombo on Sunday May 13, complaining of breathing difficulties.

Two British rugby players die on tour of Sri Lanka

Thomas Baty and Thomas Howard had complained of 'breathing difficulties'

Pair had visited a nightclub in Colombo Saturday

The pair had visited a nightclub in the Sri Lankan capital Saturday during a tour of the country with their team Clems Pirates RFC.

Howard, 25, died in hospital Sunday, according to a statement from Durham City Rugby and Football Club (DCRFC) and the UK Foreign Office.

The club confirmed with "great sadness" that Baty, his 26-year-old teammate had also died Tuesday.

"Both players and Clems Pirates hold a special place in our rugby family, and our continued support is unconditional," said Richard Wilkinson, president of DCRFC.

"We would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for the many messages of sympathy and support that have been received from our members, friends and the wider rugby family; they are very much appreciated at this difficult time."

A Foreign & Commonwealth Office spokesperson told CNN it was "in contact with the Sri Lankan hospital, police and coroner," as well as assisting the families of both men.

The Sri Lankan police force was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNN.

Clems Pirates are described as a "fine example of veterans rugby," known in the northeast of England for "their sheer enthusiasm, terrific tours and their fundraising efforts."

The club confirmed Tuesday it would go ahead with its planned charity work, providing kit to eight school teams in the Sri Lankan city of Galle, as a "mark of respect to the deceased."

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As news broke of the men's deaths, the wider rugby world united in support of them and their families.

"Such awful news," posted Aviva Premiership club Newcastle Falcons on its official Twitter account. "Our thoughts are with you all and we are here to help in any way we can."

South Shields RFC, recent winners of the Durham/Northumberland Three league title, said everyone at the club was "devastated" and sent its "sincere condolences."

Former England women's captain Tamara Taylor called it "unbelievably tragic news," sending "love to all at Clems Pirates and Durham City RFC."

Developing story. More to follow.

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