THE remarkable fund-raising efforts over the last week since Danny Jones’s tragic death have reminded many people why they love the sport.
Of course, on the one hand, seeing a young man die playing the game that he adored, is reason enough, surely, to want to walk away from it all altogether?
No one ever believes such a cruel thing can actually happen when they start out in the game so when it does it rattles you to your core.
However, what happened to Jones, the Keighley Cougars player who suffered a cardiac arrest after coming off in Sunday’s game at London Skolars, could just have easily happened to him crossing the road rather than on a rugby pitch.
The post-mortem has since revealed that the 29-year-old had a hereditary and previously undetected heart condition.
But when I refer to “loving the sport” it is witnessing how people, in such times of need, can come together with such an impact. The figure was approaching £90,000 last night
It could keep on breaking targets, go past £1m and further again but it will never be enough for Jones’s grief-stricken family to replace the man so central to all they do.
However, for his wife and mother of their five-month-old twins, it will be a massive help as they look to start rebuilding their lives.
There will be collections at grounds across the country today and tomorrow which will see that amount swell further.
It is no surprise. Anyone who witnessed how supportive the rugby league community was when Steve Prescott revealed he was battling stomach cancer and aimed to raise awareness and funds as he fought that disease, will know how willing people in the game are to help out others.
Obviously, Jones’s tragic circumstances have led to a debate about the need to have heart-monitoring of players at every level – Championship and League 1 – not just the elite of Super League.
Hopefully that is something which will be a lasting legacy of his untimely death.
Some people would argue that the fact Jones’s condition was undetected, despite an ECG at the end of last year, shows that even such screening can ultimately be futile. But that misses the point. Yes, unfortunate people like the Wales international could be carrying a heart weakness and be blissfully unaware.
Yet so many others could have issues that could be far more easily recognisable yet similarly fatal if untreated.
Anything that can be done, should be done.
My own memories of Jones as a player are one of a fine tactical kicker with an eye for a pass, too.
I did not know him well, like so many people who have donated money in recent days, but found myself smiling on the few occasions I did interview him for this and other papers.
When I got his number from one of his team-mates, I asked if there is anything of note I should ask him about for the article.
There wasn’t anything the player could really think of at the time but he did implore me to do one thing.
“Get Jonesy to do his Paul Cullen impression.”
I did. And it had me in stitches. Most people I have spoken to since the player’s death have said the same. He could make anyone laugh at any time.
This is always something worth being remembered for. RIP Danny.