Death of talented teenage rugby player ‘destined for success’ a mystery

A rugby club has paid tribute to a "stalwart" player "destined for success" after he died aged just 19.

Sam Potter passed away on May 9, and his cause of death is as yet unascertained, after his inquest was opened last week, on May 21.

But the teen , from Hersham in Surrey, was a committed member of the nearby Esher rugby team, having joined the club at the age of just five years old.

Aspiring film producer Sam, affectionally known as Potts, was studying at University of Gloucestershire – and his devastated team-mates said that he was "destined for success".

In a moving tribute released the same day as the inquest opening, Esher Rugby Club said: "Esher Rugby Club was rocked last week at news of the tragic death of Sam Potter at the age of just 19.

"Sam, a regular for both the Abbots and Esher's U21s side, had been a member of the club since the age of five.

"He had captained the U18s to a strong finish in Surrey League 1 in the 2016/17 season.

"'Potts', as he was affectionately known by team-mates and coaches alike, had moved over the years from being a stalwart of the lineout to being a highly effective centre.

"He was one of the standout players for Esher's U21 side in a number of strong recent cup performances.

"He was admired as a player, a natural leader and a mate by everyone that had the honour to play with or coach him, and was always worth listening to when the pressure came on.

"There was never a raised voice, rarely a complaint, but always wisdom beyond his years in terms of reading the game and identifying what needed to be done to secure victory.

"Sam was invariably accompanied on match days by his parents, Kevin and Lindsay, who have been an integral part of the Esher rugby family.

"He was a young man destined for success. He was studying at Gloucester University and had his sights on a career in film production.

"Anyone lucky enough to have known Sam would know that when he set his sights on something, he always achieved it.

"He was a young man that all of us are proud to say was a friend and was a credit to his parents and to Esher Rugby Club.

"But he's been taken from us too young; the Abbots have lost a brother. We'll miss you, Potts, but we'll never forget you."

On May 12, loved ones went to Widden Rugby Club to release Chinese lanterns in Sam's memory.

A friend described it as 'beautiful' and said he would have been 'so proud' of the gathering.

Many of them will come together once more on June 13 at Hanworth Crematorium for Sam's funeral, before heading to Esher Rugby Club.

A post on the club's website reads: "Kevin and the family have asked that Esher players and coaches wear an Esher playing shirt or training top.

"No flowers please, but any donations should be made to the RFU injured players foundation."

A fundraising campaign for a memorial bench at the rugby club has raised more than £3,500, while money is also being raised for one at the university's Park Campus.

Sam's inquest was adjourned until October 23, pending toxicology reports.

Sam's rugby club fundraising page can be found here.

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