Thurston Rangers rugby club mourns loss of ‘larger than life’ Josh Gilbert after shock collapse

Josh Gilbert, back row, fourth from the left, collapsed during an away game at the weekend. Picture:

Josh Gilbert, back row, fourth from the left, collapsed during an away game at the weekend. Picture: THURSTON RANGERS - Credit: Archant

Tributes are continuing to flood in for Suffolk rugby player and “gentle giant” Josh Gilbert who suddenly collapsed and died on the pitch this weekend.

Thurston in action in a previous game

Thurston in action in a previous game

Mr Gilbert, 25, was playing prop forward in an away game for Thurston Rangers against Hadleigh on Saturday when he fell to the ground.

Matt Ansell, chairman of the club, said: “It was about 20 minutes into the game and he fell to the ground. There was no tackle. It was pretty obvious quite quickly that something was wrong.

“Two or three of the other players who are first aid trained tried to give him some CPR and mouth-to-mouth. They also got a local defibrillator and tried that.

“The ambulance arrived about 20 minutes later and worked on him for a while, but they decided they couldn’t do anything for him.”

Mr Ansell was watching a game at the club’s base at the time and says members are in shock.

“I’m pretty numb. We went off the pitch while the paramedics were working on him, but it soon became apparent that they were not going to be successful.”

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He added: “Last night we spent time at our clubhouse and there were a number of other players and those involved with what happened who are pretty shaken up. Some of them had known him for 15 years and played with him through junior rugby.”

Mr Gilbert, who lived in Walsham le Willows, also played cricket and was president of the Suffolk Young Farmers last year.

Paying tribute to him, Mr Ansell said: “He was fantastic.

“He was a larger than life guy but one of the loveliest guys you could meet and his family pulled together a gathering this morning which had more than 100 people remembering him from different parts of his life. That says a lot about the kind of person he was.

“He was a gentle giant.”

It is not yet known why Mr Gilbert collapsed, but the club and his family are already planning to do something in his memory.

“The family are keen to see something put in place to remember him and we will remember him,” Mr Ansell said.

“The players who played with him also want to do something. As a club we will get together in a few days’ time and make a decision.”

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