More than 300 friends, family and fellow players travelled from across Norfolk and Suffolk to pay tribute to an 18-year-old rugby player at a Fakenham Rugby Club on Tuesday night.
Craig Prior was found dead at home by his mother on Monday night, and despite paramedics’ best efforts could not be revived. The cause of death is unknown.
Hundreds of family and friends came together to raise a glass in the teenager’s memory on the team’s training night, with some even performing a rugby dance created by Craig.
His mother, Tina, 60, said: “It wasn’t a sad occasion, although there were a few tears, it was a celebration of his life.
“There must have been more than 300 people, some had come from Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and Diss to be there. It’s a long way to come for one evening and it meant a lot.”
Joe Bane-Young, first team captain for Fakenham Rugby Club, said: “Tuesday night was amazing. We only put the offer out to the players and expected around 50 people, but they just kept flooding in. It was overwhelming.”
Craig was a dedicated player who loved the sport and the friends he had made at the club.
He started playing when he was just 10 years old, but was soon spotted for his talent and given opportunities to play for Norfolk and ultimately the Leicester Tigers.
His brother Roger Palmer, 34, said: “He used to eat, drink and sleep rugby – it was his second family. He’d be there first thing on a Saturday morning helping to mark out the white lines on the pitch for the game.”
His father, Andrew, 47, added: “I think there will be a lot of rugby clubs across East Anglia who want to play games in his memory because he was so well known across all of them.”
The teenager supported his club by volunteering his help whenever possible and was working on a fundraising project which he hoped would raise the funds needed to buy his club a new scrummage machine.
Now his family and friends are hoping to continue his work.