Tragedy as Pocklington rugby player Billy Hardy, 27, dies suddenly after training in the gym
Sports clubs in East Yorkshire have been left devastated after the sudden death of a young all-rounder.
Talented Billy Hardy, 27, played semi-professional rugby union for Hull Ionians and had also played for his hometown club Pocklington RUFC. Before switching to rugby, he had played football for Pocklington Town and cricket for Pocklington Cricket Club.
He passed away suddenly at home on December 28 after feeling unwell following a gym workout.
The tragedy happened less than two years after the death of his father, also William Hardy, at the age of 67. Mr Hardy Snr had been watching rugby on TV when he collapsed and was a former player and junior coach at Pocklington.
A statement on Hull Ionians' website read: "Billy was only in his second season at the club, but during that short time he had established himself as an important and most popular member of our 1st XV playing squad.
"It is always difficult to know what to say when we lose a club member but when we lose someone so young and well-liked it is especially hard. All our thoughts are with Billy's family and friends at this most difficult of times. The club will provide further details when appropriate."
Pocklingtown Town FC said: "Everyone at the club was devastated to hear of the sudden and unexpected loss of Billy Hardy last Saturday. Billy played in our juniors and developed into a first-team regular at centre-back before switching to rugby.
"Always a highly talented and fearless sportsman, he was also a popular and genuine person off the field. Our sincere condolences go to all of his family and friends."
A longer statement from his junior club Pocklington RUFC read: "Pocklington RUFC was stunned and saddened at the weekend with the tragic news that Billy Hardy had died suddenly at home.
"Billy, 27, starred for Pocklington as a strong running three-quarter before stepping up to play semi-pro rugby for Hull Ionians in the national leagues a couple of seasons ago. He played for Ionians on December 21 but died on Saturday after returning home from the gym and complaining of feeling unwell.
"After making his mark as a junior for all of Pocklington's main sports clubs - rugby, football and cricket - he began his senior sporting career as a teenage central defender in Pocklington Town's 1st XI; then followed in the footsteps of his father, also Bill, to switch from a top local soccer player to be straightaway a leading performer at rugby.
"Tragically his father also died suddenly less than two years ago, and Pocklington will observe a minute's silence this Saturday for 'Young Billy' before the league game v West Hartlepool - the same teams lined up for a similar tribute at West Hartlepool to 'Old Billy' in April 2017.
"He had seven seasons at Percy Road as a popular team-mate and powerful and committed back who gave his all in training and matches, with his eye for the line regularly making him among the season's top try scorers, and which included two league title triumphs with Pocklington in 2012 and 2017.
"Billy then decided to play at a higher level at Hull in 2018 and was part of Ionians' promotion-winning side last year and a first-team regular again this term in National League One. But he remained a 'Pock lad' at heart, was a regular visitor back to Percy Road, and had only recently stated his intention of returning to his Pocklington rugby roots sometime later in his career.
"The thoughts of all at the club are with his girlfriend, family and friends."