A promising rugby player has been found dead inside his hotel room just hours after making his debut for his team.
Professional rugby league club, Batley Bulldogs have announced that scrum-half Archie Bruce has died at the age of 20, The Guardian reports.
A statement from the rugby league club said that Bruce was found dead in his hotel room on Sunday morning, after making his debut for the team against Toulouse in the south of France on Saturday.
Kevin Nicholas, the Batley chairman, said in a statement: “Batley Bulldogs are greatly saddened to announce the passing of their player Archie Bruce, who was found in his hotel bedroom early this morning having made his debut against Toulouse the previous evening.
“Archie’s immediate family have been informed. Batley Bulldogs, the Rugby Football League and the RFL Benevolent Fund will be supporting the family.
“Enquiries by the French authorities continue, with the club squad delaying their return to the UK. The Bruce family have requested privacy during this most difficult of times.”
St Helens’ Alex Walmsley and Huddersfield’s Jermaine McGillvary were among the players who paid tribute to Bruce on Twitter.
“Incredibly sad news to wake up to, my condolences go out to his family, friends and teammates at both Batley and Dewsbury Moor. RIP Archie,” wrote Walmsley, while McGillvary tweeted: “Such shocking news. RIP Archie, thoughts go out to his family.”
Bruce had joined the Championship side from amateur club Dewsbury Moor and made his first appearance off the replacements bench in the 46-0 defeat to Toulouse on Saturday.
Batley said Bruce had been training with them for the 2019 season with a view to the 2020 campaign, but was handed his debut by head coach Matt Diskin “due to his energy and enthusiasm”.
The club added that he “made a great impact with darting runs” when he came on for the last 30 minutes and “his excitement was clear for all to see post match”.
They described Bruce as a “smart, polite, funny and extremely likeable young man” and called his death “an absolute tragedy”.
Dewsbury Moor posted on their website: “Archie played rugby league at Dewsbury Moor since [the] under eights and at the age of 20 had been playing in the open age team for a couple of years.
“Archie was also registered to play with Batley Bulldogs and as a club we are immensely proud that Archie made his debut last night in Toulouse. Our thoughts and prayers are with Archie’s family, team-mates and friends at this extremely sad time.”
A minute’s silence will be observed before Sunday’s Championship matches in Bruce’s memory, while the RFL Benevolent Fund has created a Just Giving page in his name.