The Hunter Valley region has been hit with another devastating blow as a young rugby league player lost his life following an incident during a football match.
The tragedy comes only a week after the Greta bus crash, which claimed the lives of seven people connected to a local sports club.
The Aberglasslyn Ants player, who had been airlifted to John Hunter Hospital after sustaining injuries in a weekend game, succumbed to his injuries on Sunday.
The man in his 20s had been receiving medical care but tragically passed away.
Emergency services responded to a call at approximately 3.30pm on Saturday, June 17, reporting an injured player at a football field on Rocky Point Road in Fingal Bay.
Paramedics found an unconscious man with a head injury at the scene.
An ambulance spokesperson confirmed the patient was airlifted to John Hunter Hospital.
The player’s identity has not been disclosed by the club out of respect for his family as they deal with the immense loss.
But the club has retired the man’s No.8 jersey from all grades in a touching tribute at their home ground.
The Aberglasslyn Ants pay tribute to their teammate, family member and friend who died after an incident during a game last weekend
All of the club’s No.8 jerseys have been retired for the remainder of the season to honour the fallen player
The news of his passing has deeply affected the close-knit Hunter sporting community, which is still grieving the loss of members from the Singleton Roosters Australian Football Club in the tragic Greta bus accident just a week prior.
The Aberglasslyn Ants released a statement expressing their sorrow and announced plans for a vigil in honor of the player.
‘As the sun was setting over McKeachies Oval yesterday afternoon, we remember you. As we lay to rest our #8 jerseys for the remainder of the season in your honour, we remember you as a friend, a brother, a father, and simply one of the kindest souls in our club,’ the club wrote.
‘At this stage, we will be protecting the identity of the player, whilst his family comes to terms with the enormity of this loss.
‘We thank Tooheys Newcastle & Hunter Community Rugby League and the community for their ongoing support of our club, staff, and players.’
A NSW Rugby League (NSWRL) spokesperson expressed their condolences and offered support to the team.
‘The NSWRL expresses its deepest sympathy to the family of the Aberglasslyn Ants player who sadly passed away. The NSWRL will ensure his family, teammates, and the local Rugby League community have the full support they need. We ask that the media respect the family’s privacy during this incredibly traumatic time,’ they wrote.
Newcastle Knights players drove the minute’s silence initiative and will also auction off personal memorabila this week for the victims of the Greta bus crash
Messages of support have flooded in from various clubs in the Hunter Valley, offering their condolences to the Aberglasslyn Ants and the affected community.
Maitland’s deputy mayor, Mitchell Griffin, also extended his sympathies on social media, saying, ‘My deepest condolences to his family and friends, and also all the players and members of the club. Such a difficult time.’
The recent tragedy follows the devastating loss suffered by the Singleton Roosters Aussie Rules club, with seven people connected to the women’s and men’s teams dying in the bus crash.
This incident marks one of the biggest tragedies to strike an Australian sports club since the Bali bombings in 2002, when players from the Perth Kingsley Aussie Rules and Coogee Dolphins Rugby League teams lost their lives.
In tribute to the victims, black armbands were worn by the Greater Western Sydney Giants and Fremantle Dockers during their AFL match in Sydney, while the Newcastle Knights and Sydney Roosters observed a minute of silence before their game.