RESPECTS have been paid to beloved former Coventry rugby player, Rob Walton, who was killed in a ‘freak accident’ while on holiday with his family in France.
The father of four was swimming in the sea at Labenne in south west France on Monday (August 10) when a ‘giant wave’ is believed to have given the 36-year-old fatal whiplash, drowning him at sea.
French emergency services tried to revive Mr Walton on the beach but were unable to save him.
The UK foreign office has been in touch with Rob’s family ahead of an autopsy to determine the cause of his death.
Rob, known as ‘Yoghurt’ and ‘Horse’ to friends and teammates, played for Hinckley RFC for years before being scouted as a talented youngster to play across the globe in New Zealand for Shirley RFC in Christchurch.
He enjoyed success playing for Coventry RFU as other local teams before going on to play for and coach the Rugby Lions in recent years.
Leading the tributes, manager and director of rugby at Coventry RFU Phil Maynard, said: “I met Rob some 12 years ago when he played for me at Birmingham & Solihull (the Bees).
“He turned up to training for the first time and had to duck under the door to get in to the changing room – he was a very big man.
“It soon became evident he had a sense of humour that matched his size and was never without a smile.
“He played his part in many Championship games during the most successful time in the clubs history including a Powergen cup quarter final win over Wasps in 2004.
“He then went on to play at Rotherham for a season and a couple of years later we were back together when he came over and helped me out at Coventry during a difficult time.
“He loved his young family and he will be sadly missed by anyone that knew him.”
In a tweet from the Coventry club yesterday (Tuesday), they said: “It’s with great sadness to hear the passing of former player Rob Walton ‘Horse’ a gentleman of the game.”