Teacher, 27, dies playing rugby

Oxford Mail: Andrew Dawson Andrew Dawson

A popular teacher collapsed during a club rugby match and died of a suspected heart attack.

Yesterday, friends, work colleagues and team-mates of Matthew Arnold School teacher Andrew Dawson paid tribute to the 27-year-old as an "unassuming, dedicated and selfless man".

Mr Dawson, a geography and citizenship teacher who had a history of heart trouble, collapsed during a game between Oxford Harlequins second team and High Wycombe second team in North Hinksey on Saturday afternoon.

Players from both teams tried desperately to resuscitate Mr Dawson on the pitch before paramedics arrived. He was taken to the John Radcliffe Hospital but was pronounced dead.

Doctors later said Mr Dawson - whose father Hamish played for Scotland - would have died instantly and that there was nothing anyone could have done.

Mr Dawson, from Long Close, Headington, Oxford, developed heart problems last year but doctors had given him the all-clear to play rugby again at the start of the season.

He had flu over Christmas while back in his home town of Mauchline in Ayshire, Scotland, and Saturday was his first rugby game since the beginning of December.

It was about 20 minutes into the match when Mr Dawson, who was playing in his favourite position of openside flanker, won possession at the front of the line-out.

He landed safely and a maul was set up in which Harlequins players drove the High Wycombe pack back. Mr Dawson was in the middle of the maul but, after several seconds, collapsed with the ball, clutching his shoulder.

Quins players Jeremy Tanner, Nick Graham, John Keown and Jonny Wilson, as well as two players from High Wycombe gave Mr Dawson cardiopulmonary resuscitation until an ambulance arrived six minutes later.

Last night his girlfriend Rowena Merritt, 29, said: "Andy was really well loved. He was everybody's friend. He was so gentle and kind."

Mr Dawson's housemate Jonathon Batt, 27, added: "He never had a bad word to say about anyone.

"He was highly motivated and it is such a crying shame that a person who gave so much has been taken from us."

Fellow housemate Peter Trotter, 27, said: "He gave a lot back to the community in which he lived and always put in extra effort for the children he taught at school."

Oxford Harlequins second team manager Neil Hopper praised the efforts of players from both teams for the way they dealt with the emergency.

He said: "There was no panic. It was calm and everyone did their job. Everyone did all they could to bring him back to life."

On Saturday night, players and others involved with Harlequins and Oxford Rugby Club - who share the same ground off the A34 - held a minute's silence before a Burns Night dinner at the ground.

Harlequins' director of rugby Matt Maudsley added: "Andy was a proud Scotsman and the club felt he would have wanted the evening to go ahead in his honour."

A private family funeral and a memorial service will be held at Mauchline and Oxford Harlequins players will observe a minute's silence before next Saturday's games.

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