MELKSHAM Rugby Football Club members are mourning the tragic death of one of their team-mates who collapsed and died after a game at Marlborough at the weekend.

The club issued a statement this morning following the death of second team player, Paul McQuillan, 41, on Saturday afternoon.

The statement said: “It is with great sadness the club has to announce the passing of Paul McQuillan.

“Paul passed away after the 2nd team game against Alfred’s Nomads which took place in Marlborough. All of our thoughts are with Michelle and all of his family at this difficult time.

“Paul was a great man to play alongside and a true asset to the club and the game. His sense of fun and warm smile will be sorely missed by all of us.”

It is understood Mr McQuillan had asked to come off the pitch 20 minutes before the end of the game, complaining that he felt cold and tired. He went straight down to the changing room to have a shower and to get warm.

It is understood he was found collapsed by team-mates who tried to resuscitate him. The Wiltshire Air Ambulance was called out but Mr McQuillan died before the paramedics could airlift him to hospital in Swindon.

The Melksham 2nd XV were playing the Alfred Nomads 2nd XV – at Marlborough, which the away team won 41-0. The Nomads are a team comprising players from Marlborough and Pewsey.

The burly 6ft 1" front row prop had played for Melksham RFC for many years and his name was always one of the first on the team-sheet.

Club secretary Any Cadwallader said: “The rest of the club is in shock. Paul was always a smiley, happy character. He was such a jolly guy.

“He came to Melksham from Colerne in the 1990s and was a long-standing member of the second team. He had just started coaching the Under 8s.”

It is understood that Mr McQuillan, of Cornflower Way, Melksham, lived with his partner, Michelle, and their two children.

His father Graham McQuillan said Paul, his only child, started playing rugby at the age of 13 while at George Ward School in Melksham. “I used to take him down to watch the rugby at Pontypool in South Wales.”

After leaving school, Paul started as an apprentice at Westinghouse in Chippenham as a design engineer before deciding that he wanted to become a policeman like his father.

Mr McQuillan said: “The police force initially turned him down on medical grounds but Paul was determined to get in so he appealed to the Home Office under the Disability Discrimination Act and the rest is history.”

Mr McQuillan worked for Wiltshire Police in Chippenham for about eight years and played rugby for the police force.

Mr McQuillan worked for Network Rail in Swindon as a signalling design engineer. He had been promoted about two months ago.

Mr Cadwallader said Melksham RFC was trying to arrange a fitting tribute to Mr McQuillan for club members. “We are thinking of holding a memorial game in the new year.”

A post mortem is likely to take place at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon. An inquest is also likely to be held on a date to be fixed.