A 20-year-old rugby league player has been found dead in his hotel bedroom.
Batley Bulldogs scrum-half Archie Bruce only made his debut for the West Yorkshire club last night against Toulouse.
The team lost 46-0 and it is understood they stayed in the French city overnight for the Betfred Championship match.
Batley Bulldogs scrum-half Archie Bruce has been found dead only hours after making his debut
The 20-year-old, from Heckmondwike, in West Yorkshire, had been signed from local amateur side Dewsbury Moor ahead of the trip to Toulouse
Earlier in the week, the head coach of second-tier Batley said a number of youngsters would be needed for the game because of senior absences.
The young scrum half, believed to be from Heckmondwike, in West Yorkshire, had been signed from local amateur side Dewsbury Moor ahead of the trip to France.
Bruce had played for Dewsbury Moor since he was in the under eights team, until playing in the National Conference League for the past two years.
Club chairman Kevin Nicholas said in a statement this morning: ‘Batley Bulldogs are greatly saddened to announce the passing of their player Archie Bruce who was found in his hotel bedroom early this morning having made his debut against Toulouse the previous evening.’
A statement by Batley Bulldogs this morning said: ‘We are devastated to announce the passing of our young player Archie Bruce (20), who was found in his hotel bedroom early this morning, having made his debut against Toulouse yesterday evening.
‘Archie’s immediate family have been informed.
‘Batley Bulldogs, the RFL and the RFL Benevolent Fund will be supporting the family while enquiries by the French authorities continue, with the club squad delaying their return to the UK.
The rugby league star played in a 46-0 loss to Toulouse in a Championship game and the club stayed in the French city overnight
‘The Bruce family have requested privacy during this most difficult of times.’
In midweek, Batley head coach Matt Diskin said, according to The Mirror: ‘We’ve got lads who’ve got wives who are due to give birth in the next week or two who can’t travel and a couple more who couldn’t get leave from work.
‘We are a bit short on numbers, but it gives an opportunity to a couple of fringe players and also a couple of amateur lads we’ve signed – George Senior from Dewsbury Celtic and Archie Bruce from Dewsbury Moor – who will make their debut.
‘It will be a bit of a baptism of fire, coming up against one of the best teams in the league, but it will give them a good measure of where they need to be in pre-season to kick on and develop with us again next year.’
Batley are currently ninth in the Championship table while Toulouse are second.
The West Yorkshire club announced the tragedy this morning and said they are ‘devastated’
Head coach Matt Diskin said a number of senior players were missing and he gave debuts to a number of young amateur players for the game
England professional Alex Walmsley led the tributes, saying: ‘Incredibly sad news to wake up to, my condolences go out to his family, friends and teammates at both Batley and Dewsbury Moor. RIP Archie.’
Former Leeds Rhinos and Great Britain star Keith Senior tweeted: ‘Never nice to hear news like this especially at such a young age. Condolences to all his family and friends.’
England winger Jermaine McGillvary said: ‘Such shocking news. RIP Archie, thoughts go out to his family.’
Gavin Wilson tweeted: ‘Desperately sad news coming out of @BatleyRLFC this morning. Condolences to everyone at the club and friends & family of Archie Bruce. Just 20 years old and his first ever game. So, so sad.’
Former club Dewsbury Moor said in a statement on Facebook: ‘Archie made his debut for Batley Bulldogs yesterday in Toulouse, and was this morning found in his hotel room in France
‘Archie played rugby league at Dewsbury Moor since under 8s and at the age of 20 had been playing in the NCL Open Age team for a couple of years.
‘Archie was also registered to play with Batley Bulldogs and as a club we are immensely proud that Archie made his debut for Batley Bulldogs last night in Toulouse.
‘Our thoughts and prayers are with Archie’s family, team mates and friends at this extremely sad time. RIP Archie and fly high.’
Hull KR will be holding a minute’s silence at KCOM Craven Park this afternoon prior to their Super League clash against Wakefield Trinity.