THE wife of former Keighley Cougars player Danny Jones, Lizzie Jones today welcomed the news that cardiac screening is to become compulsory in all three of Rugby League’s professional and semi-professional competitions.
Details of the plan to extend compulsory screening from the First Utility Super League to the Kingstone Press Championship and League 1 were outlined at the RFL Annual General Meeting in Leigh.
Lizzie, whose husband collapsed and died from heart failure triggered by an undetected heart defect whilst playing for Keighley against London Skolars in May, attended the meeting at Leigh Sports Village where she praised the decision.
“I would like to congratulate all the Championship and League 1 clubs on their decision to conduct cardiac screening with their players,” said Lizzie, who was given a standing ovation by delegates. “Anything the game can do to minimise the chance of another family experiencing what we have gone through has to be welcomed.
“I would also like to say a big ‘Thank You’ to everyone involved in Rugby League for the support they have given to me, my twins and my family: we couldn’t have got through this without you all.
“We are enormously grateful for everything you have done for us, it’s been overwhelming. The support of the Rugby League family has given us the strength to rebuild our lives without Danny.”
Cardiac screening has been compulsory for all Super League players since 2012 while Championship and League 1 clubs have been advised to regard the procedure as “best practice.” However following consultation with clubs at their recent competition meetings, the RFL is now making screening mandatory for all Championship and League 1 clubs from 2016.
RFL Chairman Brian Barwick said: “It was very moving to hear Lizzie speak so eloquently about her life since the tragic loss of Danny and we were pleased that she was able to attend the meeting.
“The clubs are very supportive of the cardiac screening programme and of the need to do all they can to protect their players’ welfare.
“It goes without saying that we wish Lizzie, her twins Bobby and Phoebe, her wider family and her friends the very best and we will continue to provide what support we can in the months and years ahead.”
The Just Giving page set up by the RFL Benevolent Fund to help Lizzie Jones and her family has already received donations of over £222,000. To make a donation please visit www.justgiving.com/dannyjones29
Pictured with Lizzie Jones and twins Bobby and Phoebe are (from left) Jason Donohue (Kingstone Press Championship champions Leigh Centurions), Neil Cullen (League 1 leaders Keighley Cougars), Mike Rush (First Utility Super League champions St Helens) and RFL Chairman Brian Barwick.