TRIBUTES have poured in for a 'hero' and 'role model' who sadly passed away shortly after having competed in a rugby match in Falmouth. 

Player/manager Chris 'Sandy' Sanders passed away after suffering a heart attack shortly after competing in Falmouth Eagles 2XV's match against St. Austell Spartans on Saturday, December 2. 

Having taken part in the match with "immense pride and determination" and made his way back to the Clubhouse for a well-deserved pint, Sandy later suffered a sudden heart attack.

Despite initial hope, the valiant efforts of both club's first responders, as well as emergency service personnel, were to no avail, and the tragic news was broken to the Clubhouse by chairman John Bullock. The atmosphere, once filled with festivity and cheer, became a sombre symphony of mourning and reflection.

Falmouth Packet: Sandy was described as a 'role model' and 'hero' by those who knew himSandy was described as a 'role model' and 'hero' by those who knew him (Image: Falmouth Rugby Club)

In the aftermath of this devastating loss, the Cornish rugby community united in grief via social media, paying tribute to Sandy who was described as a Falmouth Legend who someone who had become a pillar of strength, a hero, and an inspiration to so many for over four decades.

In a statement put out on social media, Club Chairman and long-time friend of Sandy, John Bullock, said: "It is with heavy hearts that Falmouth Rugby Club announce the passing of a true rugby hero, whose valour on and off the field will forever be remembered. With unwavering pride and an indomitable fighting spirit, a tight pair of shorts and distinguished sideburns, spanning over four decades and three generations.

"Sandy (Chris) Sanders fought with the heart of an eagle, giving everything for the badge he wore in one final battle against the St. Austell Spartans on Saturday, December 2. Doing what he loved, playing out on his own terms.

"Our beloved Rugby legend, whose name will be etched in the annals of Falmouth rugby history, dedicated his life to the sport and club he loved. With each game, he left a piece of his soul on the battlefield, embodying the true essence of a warrior. His commitment to the club and more recently to his role as second team manager, with unwavering passion, are likely to be unparalleled in the years to come.

Falmouth Packet: Sandy 'lit up every bar and clubhouse he walked into'Sandy 'lit up every bar and clubhouse he walked into' (Image: Falmouth Rugby Club)

"The Rugby Family of Falmouth, Penryn and the Bolingey Barbarians have come together quickly in response to this sad loss, with many teammates and opponents alike all confirming Sandy as a fearless role model who was respected far and wide.

"Beyond his remarkable skills and athletic prowess, and ability to slot in at any position beyond the front three. Our legend touched the lives of all those around him. His infectious enthusiasm, kind heart, and unwavering loyalty endeared him to all who had the privilege of knowing and playing with him.

"He was a pillar of strength and a source of inspiration to his teammates, always leading by example to the bitter end and instilling a sense of camaraderie that transcended the game.

"Off the field, our legend embraced life with the same zest and determination. He was not only a great father but also a friend and mentor to Georgia and Charlie ensuring they both represented the Youth Academy with the same passion and determination as they grew up under his loving wings.

Falmouth Packet: Sandy played for a number of rugby teams over the yearsSandy played for a number of rugby teams over the years (Image: Falmouth Rugby Club)

"With Georgia recording a first win only last weekend as player of the match for the first ever Eagles senior women’s side, while Charlie was able to trot out for the men’s second team only the weekend before that at Camborne. Something we all know Sandy was immensely proud to witness under his guardianship.

"Sandy’s vibrant personality and magnetic charm lit up every bar and clubhouse he entered, leaving a lasting impression on all who crossed his path.

"As we bid farewell to our dear legend, and devoted husband to Jo, let us remember him not with sorrow, but with gratitude for the incredible legacy he leaves behind. May his spirit forever soar high like an eagle, and may his memory continue to inspire generations of rugby players to come.

"In this time of mourning, let us come together to celebrate the life of our Falmouth Rugby Legend, honouring his unwavering dedication, his fighting spirit, and his remarkable impact on and off the field. Rest in peace, dear friend, knowing that your legacy will live on forever in the hearts of those who had the privilege of witnessing your greatness.

"And rest easy knowing we will continue to love and support Jo, Georgia, and Charlie here within the Falmouth Rugby Family supported in union by all the clubs you have touched over the years.

"We can’t imagine how the family are feeling and value their privacy at this time."

Falmouth Packet: Chris 'Sandy' SandersChris 'Sandy' Sanders (Image: iheadwardsphotography)

Roger Mead, President Bolingey Barbarians, said: “A true Bolingey Barbarian who supported the true cause of Barbarians rugby enjoying all three halves and was always a great tourist.”

Paul Hayes Chair, St Austell RFC, said: "Sandy epitomised all that is good about the great game of rugby and he will be greatly missed."

Helston RFC described Sandy's passing as: "A massive loss to the sport and the town.”

Matthew Grey, chair of Penryn RFC, said: "Shocked to hear this news yesterday having known Sandy more years than I can remember, he was a true gentleman and will be greatly missed by all that know him. My personal condolences go to his family and all that knew him. In addition to that, as Chair of Penryn Rugby Football Club, please also accept our sincere condolences from everyone at the club and we will hold a minute's silence in memory of Sandy at next week's home game."

The club would like to welcome all those who wish to pay tribute to Sandy at the forthcoming Falmouth Rugby Family Reunion on Saturday, December 16, from 12:30pm.