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Shane Williams reveals his heartache over death of Welsh rugby club player as he calls for action at every club

Shane Williams has revealed his heartache over the death of Cwmllynfell RFC player Alex Evans and thrown his support behind the calls for every rugby club in Wales to have a defibrillator.

Flanker Alex, aged just 31, passed away last weekend after suffering a cardiac arrest during a memorial match against Crynant.

It prompted an outpouring of tributes to the young father, led by the head coach of his club Peter Thomas.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to support Alex’s family and rugby legend Shane has now put his name forward and used his column in The Rugby Paper to raise more awareness.

It is something extremely close to his heart, with Shane having a close connection with the club and losing a friend on the field in his youth days.

READ MORE: Rugby player and father who died after match was ‘forever smiling’ and ‘one in a million’

“The tragic death of Alex Evans, who passed away last weekend after playing for Cwmllynfell, has shocked me hugely because I know the club every well,” he wrote. “I also knew of Alex which is very upsetting.

“Cwmllynfell is only four miles or so away from where I live with my family and his passing has left the community in our valley incredibly distressed. It is heartbreaking.

“There has been a bit of talk in the media in the wake of Alex’s death about the need for defibrillators and I feel it’s vitally important for me to add my voice to that debate.

“Unfortunately, I’ve had previous experience of rugby players and loved ones having heart trouble so my comments in this piece come on the back of not only the present, but the past too.

“Not many people know this but when I was playing in junior rugby, I had a friend called Craig who collapsed and passed away while we were playing.

“I have also seen my father have a stroke on the back of being diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat – something which I found out several years ago that I also have.”

After feeling unwell in the opening minutes of the match Alex left the field and paramedics were called who tried to save him with the use of a defibrillator, but tragically they couldn’t.

Shane has now called upon all clubs to have one with a trained first aider on standby to help should the worst occur.

“A defibrillator couldn’t save Alex but it at least gave him a fighting chance,” he added.

“All Welsh rugby clubs need to be equipped with one so they can be ready for the worse-case scenario.

“I really believe it’s vitally important and hopefully, if some good can come of Alex’s death, it is that Welsh rugby comes together to ensure defibrillators are made widely available.

“Maybe the Welsh Rugby Union can take the lead on this, but a cruel reality of life is that you never, ever know what is going to happen. The more defibrillator there are, the more chance we have of players surviving if they have a cardiac arrest. We have to do whatever it takes to make that happen.”

Shane ended his column with an offer of help to Alex’s family. “I’d like to end by passing on my condolences to Alex’s family and I want them to know if there is anything I can do for them, I will,” he said.

On Sunday afternoon, the GoFundMe total had surpassed £15,000. To donate click here.

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