"One hell of a man"; Rugby Lions coach dies in holiday tragedy - The Rugby Observer

"One hell of a man"; Rugby Lions coach dies in holiday tragedy

Rugby Editorial 11th Aug, 2015 Updated: 27th Oct, 2016   0

TRIBUTES have been made to the much-loved player-coach of Rugby Lions and father of four, Rob Walton, who was killed in a ‘freak accident’ while on holiday with his family in France.

Rob was swimming in the sea at Labenne in south western France on Monday (August 10) when a “giant wave” is believed to have given the 36-year-old fatal whiplash, drowning him at sea.

French emergency services tried to revive Mr Walton on the beach but were unable to save him. The UK foreign office has been in touch with Rob’s family ahead of an autopsy to determine the cause of his death.

Rugby Lions vice-chairman and friend of Rob, Jeff Nowill, described him as: “One hell of a man. A shining individual as an on-the-field coach and teammate and an off-the-field father and husband.

“He was a warm, honest and genuine man which is a rare combination. Even as a six-foot-nine, 18-stone ‘hardman’ on the pitch, he was one of the nicest guys and one of the most loving fathers you could ever meet.

“To think that I was talking to him at training only last Thursday and to hear this news now has come as a complete shock, to all of us.

“It’s going to be a huge loss to this club as well. He led us to back-to-back promotions and trips to Twickenham after success in the cups. He will be sorely missed.”

Rob, known as ‘Yoghurt’ to friends and teammates, enjoyed success with the Rugby Lions as well as playing for Birminghan, Solihull, Coventry and Rotherham. He was scouted as a talented youngster at Hinckley RFC and even played across the globe in New Zealand for Shirley RFC in Christchurch.

He led the Lions to their first match at Twickenham for the RFU Junior Vase final in 2014, which they lost to Gloucestershire side Longlevens by 23-12.

Heartfelt tributes were left by the Rugby Lions team, with a statement on their website saying: “Yoghurt was instrumental in the rebuilding of Lions and his hard work, determination and sense of humour will be sadly missed by us all.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family at this sad time. He may have passed away but he will not be forgotten. Once a Lion, always a Lion.”


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