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Former England rugby union star Andy Ripley dies

Andy Ripley
Andy Ripley, in his heyday, with Rosslyn Park

Former England international Andy Ripley has died from prostate cancer at the age of 62.

Back row forward Ripley won 24 caps for England in the 1970s and was part of the successful British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa in 1974.

An all-round athlete, and a qualified yachtsman, he won the BBC's Superstars television series in 1980.

Ripley recently received an OBE for services to sport in the Queen's Birthday Honours.

The award was announced on 12 June, but Ripley collected it last month because his illness was so advanced.

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Remarkably Ripley did not start playing rugby until he was 19, spending his entire career at Rosslyn Park, before retiring at 41.

In 2007 Ripley was interviewed by the BBC News website for an item about celebrities' health problems, when he discussed being diagnosed in East Surrey Hospital in 2005.

"One of the nurses did a PSA test and the results came back that my levels were 133," said Ripley. "I remember saying 'Is that good? and she said 'no'."

"I had a biopsy and was told it was locally advanced prostate cancer."

Ripley recovered enough that in 2007 he wrote a book and became an ambassador for the Prostate Cancer Charity.

In the foreword to his book he wrote: "Dare we hope? We dare. Can we hope? We can. Should we hope? We must.

"We must, because to do otherwise is to waste the most precious of gifts, given so freely by God to all of us. So when we do die, it will be with hope and it will be easy and our hearts will not be broken."

The cancer returned and finally claimed his life on Thursday.

"Andy Ripley was an incredible man," said John Neate, chief executive of the Prostate Cancer Charity.

"He had a huge heart and his generosity and kindness knew no bounds. His work as a Prostate Cancer Charity ambassador was immeasurable.

"Andy's personality and humour touched the hearts of everyone he met, who heard him speak and who read his words.

"He will never be forgotten and his unstinting support for this charity has undoubtedly saved the lives of men across the UK."

Rugby Players' Association chief executive Damian Hopley added: "Andy was a colossus, both as an athlete and a human being.

"His achievements for England and his beloved Rosslyn Park marked him out as one of the most skilful, dynamic and inspirational rugby players of his generation.

"He will be remembered by many for his success on Superstars, the athleticism and competitive drive that we saw there and in his rowing success that followed underlined his extraordinary ability as a sportsman."

Ripley, who was an accountant by profession, is survived by his wife, Elizabeth, and three children.



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see also
Celebrity Health - Andy Ripley
26 Feb 07 |  Health


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