Page last updated at 15:14 GMT, Thursday, 2 April 2009 16:14 UK

Funeral for rugby collapse player

Leon Walker
The cause of Leon Walker's death has not yet been established

Rugby League players have formed a guard of honour at the funeral of team mate Leon Walker, who died after collapsing during a game.

About 500 people gathered for the service at St Anthony's Church in Beeston, Leeds.

Mr Walker, 20, died in hospital after the Wakefield Trinity Wildcats reserve game against Celtic Crusaders at Maesteg, south Wales, on 22 March.

His coffin was carried into the church by fellow reserve team players.

Friends and family made emotional tributes to Mr Walker during the hour-long service.

'Last tackle'

Luke Blake, his cousin and team mate, said their childhood dream came true when they both signed for the Wildcats.

He said: "All we ever wanted from a young age was to play professional rugby.

"It didn't matter who we played for as long as we were in the same team together."


Funeral for rugby collapse player

Mr Blake said the match against Celtic Crusaders on 22 March was Mr Walker's first game back after injury.

"It was also the first proper game we had played together at Wakefield and unfortunately it was to be the last.

"I'm glad that it was me that got to make the last tackle with him."

The coffin was carried into the church by six reserve team players, while members of the first team formed a guard of honour as the cortege passed.

About 350 mourners packed into the red-brick church, with a further 150 listening to the funeral through loud-speakers in the car park.

Post-mortem tests failed to establish the cause of Mr Walker's death, but did rule out any injury caused by playing rugby.

An inquest has been opened and adjourned.

Meanwhile, the Rugby Football League (RFL) has launched a full inquiry into the tragedy which it said was normal procedure following such a serious incident.

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