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  1. ITV Report

Doncaster rugby player discharged from hospital days before death, inquest told

A professional rugby player who died during a training session had been discharged from hospital just days earlier and told to take Ibuprofen for chest and neck pains.

Credit: Doncaster Knights

Ian Williams, 27, who played for Doncaster Knights, was diagnosed with a congenital heart condition when he was at school, but was told he could continue to play rugby, a sport he was "passionate" about.

He collapsed at training 20 February 2018 and died in hospital despite resuscitation attempts.

An inquest at Doncaster Coroner's Court heard that Mr Williams had bicuspid aortic valve disease.

His mother, Phillippa Williams, told the inquest in a statement that her son always complied with medical advice but had never had any further monitoring after his diagnosis at boarding school at the age of 14.

She said:

I believe he was always open about his and his family's medical history and would follow medical advice. "Ian did not have any further cardiac screening or investigation."

– Ian's Mother

Mrs Williams said her "intelligent", "compassionate" and "larger than life" son had been interested in rugby from the age of two and had played since he was six years old.

She said: "Rugby became a major part of Ian's life. He was very passionate about it. He would not have been Ian without rugby."

Ian was told by doctors that he could continue to play rugby as long as clubs were informed about his condition and he went to hospital immediately if he suffered any chest pains.

He was also told that he may need a valve replacement later in life.

Mr Williams' girlfriend, Abigail Lynch, sobbed as she gave evidence to the inquest. She said he began experiencing neck pains on the evening of February 15 2018, and then told her he was also suffering from chest pains, an ache down his arm and blurry vision.

She said:

"That's when I became concerned because that, to me, was cardiac symptoms."

– Abigail Lynch

He was taken by ambulance to hospital, where he underwent ECGs and blood tests and was seen by a doctor before being discharged by a nurse and advised to take Ibuprofen.

The inquest heard that Miss Lynch said the doctor who examined Mr Williams seemed "tired" and was "a bit dismissive in his questioning", despite being told about his heart condition.

Miss Lynch said she could not remember if there were any discussions about playing rugby but said she "would not have let him play" if he had been instructed not to.

The inquest heard that he went to training on February 16, despite spending the previous night in the accident and emergency department at hospital.

He came on as a substitute for around 20 minutes of a match the following day after which he said he felt "heavy" and was disappointed in himself for his performance.

Friends and family told the inquest that Mr Williams had complained of feeling tired in the days following his visit to hospital but they all believed it was due to lack of sleep that night.

On the day of his death, he attended training but "fell to his knees" and collapsed as he made his way to the pitch.

Team-mates and staff at the club, which had been informed about Mr Williams' pre-existing condition and his hospital visit the previous week, carried out CPR and he was taken to hospital by ambulance, where he was later pronounced dead.

A post-mortem examination found that Mr Williams' heart condition contributed to his death.

Players from the club told the inquest, which is listed for five days, that they now have cardiac screening at the start of every season.