A fundraising campaign set up in memory of Danny Jones, the Keighley Cougars stand-off half, who suffered a cardiac arrest on Sunday shortly after leaving the pitch at the New River Stadium, as the Cougars faced their League One rivals London Skolars, has raised over £40,000 in two days.
Jones was left fighting for his life following an injury in the second minute, when he appeared to pull up, bending over as if out of breath.
Brendon Rawlins scored for Keighley soon afterwards and Jones was led away from the pitch as the conversion was taken, assisted by the physio, but he walked as if there was a slight injury, with several spectators assuming he was suffering from concussion, although subsequent video analysis suggested that he hadn’t made physical contact with any other player.
Jones’s condition rapidly deteriorated whilst in the dugout and by the time Paul March scored his try in the eighth minute, he had collapsed and was receiving cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
Play continued for a few minutes as the resuscitation started on the stricken player, though once it became clear that urgent work was being done by the medical staff, the match commissioner ordered play to be suspended and subsequently the match was abandoned.
With two motor ambulances present, the air ambulance landed on the pitch as treatment continued. After more than one hour of treatment, Jones was loaded into a stretcher and taken away to hospital in one of the motor ambulances.
A statement from London Ambulance said: “We were called at 3.10pm today to an address on White Hart Lane.
“We sent a number of resources including London’s Air Ambulance and two ambulance crews to the scene.
“The patient – a man – was in cardiac arrest.
“Extensive efforts were made to resuscitate him and he was taken by road ambulance to the Royal Free Hospital, with the air ambulance on board.”
Subsequently he was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Danny Jones, 29, was a fans’ favourite at the Cougars.
He played 153 games for the Cougars in two separate spells, scoring 33 tries, 444 goals and seven field-goals, for a total of 1,027 points.
He made his debut for Halifax in 2003, playing one Super League game that year, but spending the remainder of his career in the part-time leagues.
He joined the Cougars in 2008, but spent a year back at Halifax in 2011.
He appeared 54 times for Halifax, scoring 17 tries, 132 goals and two field-goals for 334 points in total.
He also played twelve games for Wales, scoring three goals and six points in total. He appeared for Wales from 2010 to 2013, playing for his country in the Four Nations in 2011, the autumn internationals against England and France in 2012, and the World Cup in 2013.
RFL Chief Operating Officer Ralph Rimmer stated, “It is always devastating when someone so young dies in these circumstances. Danny was a popular and talented Rugby League player, having played at the highest level with the Wales national team and playing over 12 seasons for Keighley Cougars and Halifax.
“The Rugby League community will mourn his loss and I wish to extend our deepest sympathies to Danny’s family and friends at this incredibly sad time. The family, friends and team-mates of Danny are currently and will continue to be supported by the RFL Benevolent Fund and Sporting Chance.
“We would ask that the privacy of the Jones family, players and Keighley Cougars staff be respected.”
Supporters wishing to make a donation in memory of Danny Jones can do so online at https://www.justgiving.com/dannyjones29/