Chris Leatherbarrow: Rugby league match official dies, aged 27

Chris Leatherbarrow
Chris Leatherbarrow was the Championship's Referee of the Year in 2013

Rugby league match official Chris Leatherbarrow has died aged 27.

The circumstances of the St Helens referee's death are unconfirmed, but he is survived by his partner Nicola and daughter Daisy.

Rugby Football League chief Nigel Wood, said: "We are all truly shocked and saddened by the news of Chris Leatherbarrow's untimely death.

"This is a dreadful tragedy and our thoughts and prayers are with Chris's family, friends and colleagues."

Tributes have been paid throughout the rugby league community to Leatherbarrow, whose officiating saw him awarded the Championship Referee of the Year award in 2013.

St Helens, his hometown side, said in a statement: "Saints are saddened and shocked to hear of the passing away of Chris Leatherbarrow.

"Chris was well known to the club having refereed our matches and been an integral part of the match officials team. He is also from St Helens.

"Our sincerest and heartfelt sympathies are sent to all Chris' family and friends.

"Once again, this is time for the Rugby League family to come together and not only pay tribute but be strong for everyone. We have no doubt it will."

Clubs throughout Super League and the Championship have posted their sympathies on social media, as have individual colleagues, players, coaches and supporters.

Lizzie Jones
Lizzie Jones lost her husband Danny Jones when a heart condition led to his death in Keighley's game against London Skolars in May
Jon Wilkin tweet
St Helens captain Jon Wilkin was among the players to pay their respects, with Leatherbarrow hailing from the town
Rob HicksRichard Silverwood tweet
Tim Roby tweet
Rob Hicks, Richard Silverwood and Tim Roby all worked with Leatherbarrow in the RFL's pool of officials
Ryan Brierley
Ryan Brierley's Leigh side were refereed by Leatherbarrow on several occasions.

Chris Leatherbarrow's age was amended in this article after guidance from the RFL.

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