England legend and World Cup winner Jonny Wilkinson pays tribute to Hitchin Rugby club stalwart who died suddenly hours after playing at the home of European Champions Cup victors Saracens

Two rugby union legends: Sean Tomlinson and Jonny Wilkinson.

Two rugby union legends: Sean Tomlinson and Jonny Wilkinson. - Credit: Archant

Sporting legend Jonny Wilkinson has spoken of his ‘intense sadness’ about the untimely death of a Hitchin Rugby Club stalwart.

Sean Tomlinson, from Baldock Road, Letchworth, 50, passed away suddenly in London after turning out for the Hitchin Grey Hogs at Allianz Park, the home of the now European Champions Cup winners Saracens earlier in the evening.

After completing several fun games – the last being against the England Over 45 Touch Team – Sean died at nearby the Mill Hill Rugby Club base.

Hero Wilkinson was the man who kicked England to victory in the never-to-be-forgotten 2003 Rugby World Cup Final against home team Australia in Sydney by scoring the winning drop goal in the last minute of extra time.

He told the Comet: “It is with intense sadness and with deepest condolences to the Tomlinson family that I receive the news of Sean’s passing.

“I cannot begin to imagine just how difficult a time this must be for everyone touched by Sean.

“I remember meeting Sean and getting the chance to spend some time chatting with him at a fabulous get together at the end of last year.

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“His spirit was enormously powerful and incredibly infectious.

“I imagine I am not alone in holding this particular view of clearly a very kind, passionate and respectful team man.

“With very best wishes and once again heartfelt sympathies,”

Sean had been an active member of the Old Hale Way club, nicknamed the Hedgehogs, for more than 20 years and was a former player and U13 coach, known as someone who loved the game and the people associated with it.

The funeral will take place at 2pm on Tuesday, May 24, at Hitchin’s St Mary’s Church, followed by a reception at Chesfield Downs Golf Club.

A fund for his children is being set up, and cheque donations made payable to Sean’s wife, Mandy Saville, can be forwarded to funeral directors Austin’s in Hermitage Road.

Cash or cheque donations will be welcome on the day.