Former England international Ripley dies
June 17, 2010
Ripley receives the Blyth Spirit Award at last month's RPA Awards © Getty Images
Former England international Andy Ripley has died aged 62 following a long battle with prostate cancer.
Ripley won 24 caps between 1972 and 1976, scoring two tries, and was selected for the triumphant 1974 Lions tour to South Africa. He did not begin playing rugby until he was 19-years-old and continued until he was 41, spending his whole career at Rosslyn Park.
The hard-running No.8 was a brilliant all-round athlete, competing in the 400m at the UK athletics Championship, and was world veteran indoor rowing champion. A chartered accountant, Ripley was a colourful and popular figure who received an OBE in the 2010 Birthday Honours List.
Initially diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2005, he appeared to have made a recovery by 2007 only for disease to return the following year. During the past five years he worked as an ambassador for the Prostate Cancer Charity who confirmed that Ripley had died.
Figures from inside and outside rugby were quick to pay tribute with John Owen, President of the Rugby Football Union (RFU), commenting, "It was with profound sadness that I heard of the death of Andy Ripley, who finally succumbed to the dreadful disease which had caught hold of him.
"In sport there are players who grace their sport on the field of play and those rare few who also transcend their sport off the field. In English and world rugby Andy was definitely in the latter category. On the field he was immense, an outstanding athlete who reached the highest levels of the game. Off the field he was even more impressive with what he gave of himself for others.
"To be in Andy's presence was to feel truly blessed. His unwavering appetite for life, unceasing enthusiasm for everything and everybody around him and his positive attitude never failed to leave you feeling better about the world around you. His passing will leave a huge hole in our lives and our thoughts are with his family at this sad time."
John Neate, chief executive of the Prostate Cancer Charity, added, "Andy Ripley was an incredible man. 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."
RPA chief executive Damien Hopley said, "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.
"Following his diagnosis with prostate cancer, Andy's work raising awareness of the disease amongst men continued to highlight his positive approach to life, and his wisdom, warmth, humour and sprit. We send our deepest condolences to his family. Andy Ripley was, and will remain, one of a kind."
England will wear black armbands in tribute to Ripley prior to Saturday's Test match against Australia in Sydney.
"Here is the line-up I believe will take to the field on Saturday, let the abuse commence." Tom Hamilton has a punt at the Lions' starting XV for the first Test in his latest Tour Diary
"Drafting former Lions heroes and rising stars into your side at short notice may make for great copy but it does not make for a great side." Graham Jenkins on the lesson from the Lions' first loss
"At full-time I could not see the field for people dancing in front of me." Tom Hamilton reflects on the Lions' defeat at the hands of the Brumbies in Canberra
To coincide with the Lions' tour of Australia, and in association with Dove Men+Care, we are asking you to vote for the greatest Lions moments of the professional era