2015 – We will remember them

We pay tribute to current rugby league players and officials that passed away during 2015.

1. Danny Jones (1986-2015)

In early May the rugby league world was coming to grips with the death of Welsh rugby league player Danny Jones.

During Keighley Cougar’s match with London Skolars, Jones came from the field feeling unwell and went into cardiac arrest.  The game was abandoned and sadly Danny Jones passed away soon after.

#DoItForJonesy was the theme throughout a difficult remainder of a season for the Cougars.  They just missed out on promotion from Championship 1 to the Championship.

Wife Lizzie won admiration for her rendition of Abide With Me at the Challenge Cup Final.  She may become the face of our game in the UK for many years to come.

2. James Ackerman (1990-2015)

For a second time in the space of two weeks, Queensland’s Intrust Super Cup were in mourning after Sunshine Coast Falcon’s James Ackerman passed away following an on-field injury against Norths Devils in June.

Ackerman played with the Broncos Under 20’s side in 2009 alongside NRL stars Dane Gagai, Tariq Sims and Corey Norman.

Out of this tragedy came positive news for many requiring organ donations.  It was reported up to twenty people’s lives could be saved because of James Ackerman’s decision to donate.

3. Grant Geiss (1990-2015)

On the June long weekend the Easts Tigers club were in shock after the passing of Grant Geiss at the age of 25.

Geiss had gone for a night out in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley on Friday night and failed to arrive at home, his body found the next day.  He was involved in pre-season training with the Melbourne Storm in 2013 but was unable to secure a contract.

Sadly the lack of information provided by the QRL at the time made this story our most read in 2015.  Something the QRL amended when James Ackerman passed away a few weeks later.

4. Chris Leatherbarrow (1988-2015)

Chris Leatherbarrow was a current Super League and Championship referee who passed away post season on November 1, 2015.  An inquest is underway to determine the cause of death.

5. Adam Cunliffe

Adam was a contributor to NothingButLeague in the UK.  He sadly passed away at the age of 20, way too young.

Other notable passings:

Eddie Hei Hei – New Zealand rugby league player dies after being found unconscious after game.
Craig Farrugia – suspected heart attack running water for Tweed Heads Seagulls.
Terry Fearnley – ex Australia, NSW, Eels, Magpies, Sharks and Steelers coach.
Fotu “Francis” Winterstein – 19 year old brother of Antonio Winterstein played in local Townsville comp.
Hayden Butler – 20 year old passed away on Australia Day Weekend in Mackay. Former Storm junior.
Zane Purcell – passed away while playing for the Lower Clarence Magpies against the Ballina Seagulls at Ballina.
Ray Ertl – former Storm player who tragically took his own life
Rex Cunningham – longest living ex Kiwi International passed away at age 91.
Jack Fegan – former Kiwi International passed away at age 82.
Steve Hanson – ex NSW Origin player passed away as a result of a heart attack.
Steve Calder – respected player and coach.
Jack Brannigan – part of the 1947 Tigers premiership winning side.
Alan Clarkson – respected Sydney rugby league journalist.
Paul Judd – ex South Sydney player lost his battle with cancer.
Ray Ritchie – former Manly player part of 1957 Australian World Cup winning squad.
Kel O’Shea – former Australian International in the 1950’s.
Bradley Parker – former England Youth Captain passed away at 19 years of age in a car accident.
Jack Fulton – “Mr Castleford”.


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