Tributes pour in for Hitchin Rugby Club stalwart from Letchworth who died suddenly after playing the game he loved at top venue

Two rugby union legends: Sean Tomlinson and Jonny Wilkinson.

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

Tributes have been flooding in for a Hitchin Rugby Club stalwart and father-of-two who died hours after playing touch rugby.

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 rugby union Premiership side 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.

His wife Mandy said: “I’m amazed by the support, good wishes and memories that everyone has shared with us as a family.”

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.

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Many younger players recall making their debuts alongside Sean – from Letchworth – and how he helped them graduate to adult rugby.

Such was his love of the game that he was selected to be a legacy ambassador for the Rugby World Cup last year and helped encourage successful participation in so many events locally that made the tournament such a success.

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Club president Tim Jeffries said: “We are so shocked and will miss Sean greatly.

“He was a great guy, full of enthusiasm, fun, love of our game and more. Our thoughts are with his family at this awful time.”

Sean’s whole family are involved at the club, with Mandy involved in the girls’ rugby team and children Jack, 12 and Alice, 15 both regular players.

Teammates who played with him on the night he died recalled the happy atmosphere and camaraderie, taking heart from the pleasure Sean took from the games.

Sean once met rugby legend Jonny Wilkinson – with the 2003 England World Cup winner signing a photo of them with the message: “Great to meet you mate – with huge respect.”

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 Mandy Saville can be forwarded to funeral directors Austin’s in Hermitage Road. Cash or cheque donations will be welcome on the day.

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