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Two British Rugby Players Have Died After Suffering From 'Breathing Problems' While on Tour in Sri Lanka

Time logo Time 16/5/2018 Eli Meixler
a close up of a football field: A rugby ball sits on the field during the 2003-2004 Heineken Cup on Dec. 15, 2003 © Manuel Blondeau—Corbis/VCG/Getty Images A rugby ball sits on the field during the 2003-2004 Heineken Cup on Dec. 15, 2003

Two amateur British rugby players have died after complaining of breathing difficulties while on a tour of Sri Lanka.

Thomas Howard, 25, and Thomas Baty, 26, from Durham, England were admitted to hospital on Sunday after visiting a nightclub in the Sri Lankan capital, the BBC reports.

The men were touring the country with their team, the Clem Pirates Rugby Football Club. After returning from the nightclub late Saturday night, the two men told hotel staff they had trouble breathing and were taken to Colombo’s Nawaloka Hospital.

The players “suffered non-rugby related breathing problems,” according to a statement from the Durham City Rugby Football Club (DCRFC), which organized the trip.

The club confirmed that Howard died in hospital on Sunday. In a statement on Tuesday, the club announced that Baty had now also passed.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with you all,” DCRFC president Richard Wilkinson said in a statement. “Both players and Clems Pirates hold a special place in our rugby family, and our continued support is unconditional.”

The cause of the deaths is not yet clear. An autopsy conducted on Howard did not reveal any signs of injury or illness, according to police, who are examining CCTV footage to track the players’ final hours.

Samples from the autopsy have been sent for further analysis, the BBC reports.

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