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Ex-colleagues, ex-Rugby World Cup star pay tribute to man who died at Singapore International Triathlon

Ex-colleagues, ex-Rugby World Cup star pay tribute to man who died at Singapore International Triathlon
Steve Begley was remembered as a stalwart in both the Singapore and Scottish rugby scene. Photos: Singapore Rugby, Glasgow Hawks
Published: 4:50 PM, September 12, 2017
Updated: 9:50 PM, September 12, 2017

SINGAPORE — He was an avid rugby player who was known for his strong and aggressive nature on the field, yet fun and friendly personality off it.

Steven Begley, 42, died on Sunday (Sept 10) after experiencing difficulties during the swim leg of the Singapore International Triathlon (SIT). His company St James’s Place Wealth Management Asia said in a statement on Tuesday that Begley, who had no previously known medical conditions, had experienced cardiorespiratory failure while swimming.

Although he was pulled out of the water and received immediate medical assistance, Begley could not be resuscitated after being sent to the Singapore General Hospital.

“We are deeply saddened by this loss and the thoughts of everyone at St James’s Place are with Steven’s family. Steven was a larger than life personality whose positive outlook was much admired by all of his colleagues,” said St James’s Place in the statement.

Begley was a prominent name in both the local and Scottish rugby scene. A utility forward who played for the Glasgow Accies and Glasgow Hawks in Scotland in the 1990s to 2005, the 1.96m tall rugger was a pivotal member of an unbeaten Hawks side that won the Scottish Second Division title and the Scottish Cup in 1998.

After moving to Singapore ten years ago, Begley, who was single, also played for Bucks Rugby Football Club, which is one of the top rugby sides here.

The Hawks wrote on its website on Sunday: “Early this morning we received the tragic news that former Hawks player Steve Begley had died while taking part in a triathlon in Singapore.

“Steve played for Glasgow Accies and Hawks for many seasons including the League and Cup double year 1998 and he also played in the historic win over Toulouse at Old Anniesland.

“The thoughts of everybody associated with Hawks and Glasgow rugby are with his brother Matt and the rest of his family at this very sad time.”

Bucks RFC are organising a memorial service for Begley on Sept 27, with donations set to cover the cost of the service, while the rest will go to charity.

Begley’s death came as a shock to many of his ex-teammates in Scotland, including former Rugby World Cup star Glenn Metcalfe.

Metcalfe, who was a key member of the Scottish national squad that won the final Five Nations Championship in 1999, told the Scotsman that Begley was “a larger than life character who was always fun to be around”.

“He was a mate to everyone and a pleasure to have known... He was one of life’s fun guys and I will miss the big geezer,” added Metcalfe.

Former Hawks teammate Chas Afuakwah, who went on to become president of the team, also said: “The news was hard to believe...Steve had just taken up rugby again after a spell out of the sport and he had taken part in several triathlons.

“I remember him as a very abrasive player – the kind of guy you like to have in your team. I suppose he was an enforcer on the pitch... But he was a lovely guy and great company.”

Bucks president Martin Williams, who is also the vice-president of the Singapore Rugby Union, told TODAY: "Steven Begley, or 'Begs' to his many friends, was one of life's good people. He had an excellent outlook and thought the main purpose of life is to enjoy it to the full and to make as many friends as possible along the way. 

"The reactions we have seen since his passing have shown how successful he was in this regard. He has been heavily involved in Bucks rugby club, not just as a player, but he also assisted in coaching and mentoring some of the younger players (both men and women). He was a giant on the field and will be sorely missed by us all. The thoughts of all the club are with his loved ones during this terrible time and we are all trying to rally together to provide whatever support we can to them."

This is the second time a death has occurred at the SIT, which has been held since 1984.

In 2009, Calvin Lee, who was also 42 then, died after experiencing difficulties during the swim leg.

In a media statement, the Triathlon Association of Singapore (TAS) said it was only able to share more details on Begley’s death after investigations are completed. Begley’s employer added that it is unable to comment further, though it asked for the privacy of Begley’s family to be respected during this difficult time.

One Glasgow Hawks fan wrote on its Facebook page: “Really sad to see this news. Lovely guy and far too young.”

Another fan said: “Awful news. One of life’s wonderful characters. He will be sadly missed. RIP. Thoughts to his family.”