A former rugby union player known during his playing career as the “cornerstone of the pack” has died aged 43.

Bob Birks, from Sutton, near Keighley, started his playing career as a 17-year-old and was prop forward for Skipton Rugby Union Club until he retired.

Mr Birks was made a centurion of the club in 2009, having taken to the field at least 100 times for the first XV. Often the unsung hero of the team, he notched up 318 appearances.

He was employed by Landis Lund in Eastburn and died last Wednesday while working in Berlin. He lived in Rowan Garth, Sutton, with his wife Lyn and teenage daughter Sophie, 15.