Published On: Tue, Apr 9th, 2024

Rugby League star dies suddenly aged 21 as coach and his club pay heartbreaking tributes | Rugby | Sport

Welsh rugby league has been rocked by the news that Gabriel Holt has tragically died at the age of 21. Holt, who represented Wigan St Patricks and the University of Central Lancashire, won three caps for Wales Students last year and had been selected in this year’s squad for the upcoming Four Nations tournament.


After news of his sudden death was confirmed, a sea of tributes poured in for the youngster. Gabriel’s dad, Chris Holt, responded on Facebook, writing: “These comments. They bring a tear to my eye. Gabe was a bit of a journeyman, starting at Atherton Dragons when he was five years old.

“Remember when we all had to stand in horizontal sleet. In the winter. Or brush the snow off the pitch before they could play? Aye. We must’ve been crackers, but they loved rolling in frozen puddles & looking like the creature from the black lagoon at the final whistle…

“After Dragons folded he did a stint at Leigh East & Folly Lane before finally finding his forever home at Pat’s. He was ever so proud to play for a club with such a reputation & team spirit – ‘kick one of us, kick all of us!’ & every Monday was simply the start of the countdown to game day, thankfully then in warmer (ish!) conditions for us mardy parents.

“Even after leaving for UCLAN where he loved playing, the academic season allowed him to return to Pat’s & play when he could, in his last match scoring a try to level the scores against the difficult Leigh Miners before Pat’s prevailed by 2 points. He was champing at the bit to return once he got over his knee injury, especially after being chosen to represent Wales for the second year of asking in the student 4 nations.

“Sadly it wasn’t to be. We are forever indebted to Wigan St Patricks who showed him what ‘team’ meant. Everyone has their role. Everyone has each other’s back. Everyone is included. No questions asked. The best game in the world. And he loved every second of it, dislocated limbs included.”

Wales Students head coach Craig Fisher was also emotional, posting: “Lost for words is somewhat of an understatement. No words will ever be able to articulate what an exceptional human being you were.”


“You were a leader, a team-mate, a champion but most of all a friend to everyone you met. I feel privileged to have known you and to have coached you. I know how proud you were to wear the red of Wales and were itching to tear into the 2024 Four Nations.

“As heart-wrenching as it will be that you won’t be with us in person to go to war with us, we will take comfort in knowing that our Angel Gabriel will be with us every step of the way. God Speed young man. Forever your coach.”

Wigan St Patricks also posted: “The club are heartbroken to learn of the passing of Gabriel Holt. A current open age player who has progressed through our junior section starting at u13s. Gabe was loved throughout the club and especially with his selection for Wales RL students over the last few years. They added: “Sending love to Chris, Michelle, Aaron, Dominica, Will and Frankie. From all of us at Wigan St Patricks RIP Gabe. Never Forgotten.”


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