DONCASTER Knights captain Michael Hills last night explained how the South Yorkshire club held a “fitting” memorial for their former team-mate Ian Williams on the first anniversary of the prop’s tragic death.
Former Rotherham Titans forward Williams collapsed and died at the age of just 27 before a training session at Doncaster’s Castle Park ground last February.
Team-mates and colleagues desperately tried to revive him, but he sadly passed away. Hills said: “We had a memorial yesterday (Wednesday) at the club including the players that were here last season.
“We all got together in the morning along with Ian’s mum Pippa, had a little chat in the changing rooms and then walked down to the spot where he fell.
“We laid a wreath and Pippa also laid down some flowers and some memorial things like one of Ian’s shirts.
“Griff (director of rugby Clive Griffiths) read a poem, Pippa spoke a bit about Ian and the support she’s had since it happened, I told some funny memories I remember of him and then we had a minute’s silence just to pause for thought.
We all got together in the morning along with Ian’s mum Pippa, had a little chat in the changing rooms and then walked down to the spot where he fell.Michael Hills
“We went to a local bar together to eat and chat about him, to remember him the right way, and it was a fitting way to do it really.”
Flanker Hills, 33, conceded the memories of what happened that day are still fresh.
“It feels like yesterday,” he said.
“When something so tragic happens and the memories are so vivid it certainly doesn’t feel like 12 months ago.
“It was really important we did that yesterday and gave everyone a chance to remember Ian in that way and acknowledge it has been a year.
“Everything moves so quickly in sport; it’s game, train, then onto the next game.
“We don’t actually have a game this weekend, though, which is quite apt as the same was true when it happened last year.
“It’s meant we can do something special without having to worry about training and things like that.”
Williams’s sister Helen has set up The Ian Williams Foundation to try to ‘safeguard the heart of sport’.
Hills said: “Helen, along with the family, is working tirelessly on that.
“They’re wanting to not only look at the heart and screening, but a lot of other issues, too.
“There’s a lot of research into concussions at the moment and they want to help make it the safest environment possible.”