Witney Rugby club is mourning the death of former player Dave Hyde.

Tributes have been paid to “a wonderful man” and “an incredibly talented athlete” after the former Wood Green pupil died suddenly after a match at the weekend.

Witney Rugby Club chairman Bob Fisk said: “In life, he was a huge presence on the rugby field - both locally at Witney more recently at Henley and when people speak of him, they use the words ‘great’ and ‘generous’.”

Henley Hawks announced the sudden death of the lock on Sunday.

He collapsed after a game against Old Albanian and died in hospital overnight.

Mr Hyde, 29, who lived in Faringdon, leaves behind a young family.

Mr Fisk said: “Dave was a close friend to many at the Witney Rugby club and was always at the club Friday night catching up with his mates.

“Dave embraced the club and rugby ethos and his time with us coincided with the team’s highest league finishes which showed the prowess and strength in the team.”

Mr Fisk said Mr Hyde was an incredibly popular member of the team.

“Dave was many things to many people, but to us he will be remembered as a wonderful person, a loving family man, an incredibly talented athlete and a person who just made you smile when you were in his company.

“Off the field he took part in all the clubs activities from boxer short night to skiing holidays with other players.

“He will be sorely missed by all at WRFC and beyond. RIP Dave.

“All our love and thoughts are with his wife Katherine, his son Tore, and all his family and friends.”

Head coach at Witney Rugby Club Adam Copperwheat said the news was a terrible shock as he had only seen him on Friday night.

But he said that his talent shone out as soon as he started playing for Witney in the 2013/14 season.

Mr Copperwheat recalled: “He turned up having played a handful of games at Portsmouth University. We were his local club and I had heard of him because we both used to swim at Witney Swimming Club although he was younger than me.

“It was evident immediately that he was very talented. He had played a lot of basketball but he had a skill set that once he understood the rules of rugby he was going to be exceptional.”

He said: “We had our best seasons when Dave played in 2013/14, 14/15 and 15/16 and he was very much part of the reason for that. Just seeing his name on the team sheet gave everyone else confidence.

“Henley, who were two leagues above us in a semi-pro league, spotted him. Dave’s ability was far above the level we were playing at. He could have turned his hand to most sports and been good at them.”

He added: “He was just a wonderful person, just a lovely person, laid back, easy going and relaxed but he was also adventurous – we had some really great ski-ing holidays with him.”

Mr Hyde, who worked as Research And Development Design Project Manager at Meech International in Witney, was made Player of the Year on his first season with National League 2 South rugby club Henley.

Henley chairman Chris Nixon said: "Dave was a gentle giant, strong family man, great friend to many and a much loved and highly respected member of our club.

"Our thoughts go out to his wife Katherine, his young son, close family and all his friends within our club.

He will be so greatly missed."

Dozens of people left tributes on social media after the news was announced.

National League 1 side Chinnor wrote: "We are so sorry to hear this, such devastating news.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Dave’s family, friends and all at the club. RIP Dave."

Andy Dalgleish added: "Deepest condolences to the family of David.

"A man I didn’t know but a Hawk and therefore a brother.

"If ever there was a time for a club and community to pull tight, show strength of character and unwavering support, it is now."

Gary Evans wrote: "So very saddened to hear this.

"Jackie and I are grief stricken and our thoughts are with Katherine and his family.

"Deepest condolences to all at the club and everyone that knew Dave, a true gent, loving father and great player.

"You will be deeply missed by all Dave. RIP."