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Teams in tribute to tragic rugby coach
Buy this photo » Matt Lay, with the ball, shows his determination while being tackled during a rugby match honouring his father, Will
RUGBY clubs put their rivalries aside for a tournament to remember a popular coach who is believed to have died from a wasp sting.
Eight Oxfordshire under-13 teams came together to pay tribute to 43-year-old Will Lay, who suffered a fatal allergic reaction in August.
The landscape gardener had been a coach for three years at Oxford Rugby Football Club,which hosted the competition on Sunday.
Mr Lay’s 12-year-old son Matt, who plays scrum half for Oxford RFC, lifted the inaugural Will Lay Cup after the home side won the event.
Also taking part were Abingdon, Chinnor, Grove, Harlequins, Wallingford, Wheatley and Witney.
Family friend David Roach, 45, from Appleton, organised the tournament with coach Steve Jones, Mr Lay’s widow Milly and other parents.
He said: “It was a huge success. The weather was awful, but everyone had a great time.
“It was about the fantastic game of rugby and aimed to show our support for Will’s son Matt, who has carried on playing and hasn’t missed a training session.
“There’s a lot of healing in rugby, and for this tournament all the rivalries were put to one side.
“Will was just the loveliest, sweetest, gentlest man you could ever meet – a calm, easy-going guy.
“I’m sure he would be hugely embarrassed about all this. It wasn’t his way to be the centre of attention.”
He said the organisers wanted to make the event an annual fixture.
Before the tournament started, Oxford RFC Club coaching co-ordinator Tony Tyrer gave a short speech in Mr Lay’s honour.
He said: “Will was a really great person and a really great coach.
“He had the attributes you need to be a great coach. He was really enthusiastic, he loved his rugby and he was always smiling.
“And he will be very, very much missed. It is a tribute to Will that so many people have come to take part.
“This is what Will lived for. He lived for rugby and he would have absolutely loved this.”
Will’s widow Milly said the day had been fantastic and she was delighted so many people had turned out.
The 43-year-old said: “His big love was rugby and he hoped his son would go on to be a professional rugby player.”
Mr Lay, of Netherton, near Fyfield, played rugby for Abingdon and Grove clubs. He is believed to have been stung when he was getting tools out of his garage.
The father-of-three was in a coma for four days before he died at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital.
All profits from the tournament were donated to allergy charity Anaphylaxis. For more information, visit anaphylaxis.org.uk
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