RUGBY clubs and organisations have expressed their shock and sadness after a Birkenshaw player collapsed and died during a match yesterday afternoon.

Max Blakeley was playing summer rugby league for Birkenshaw Bluedogs in a Yorkshire Men's League Division Five match at Heworth Rugby League Club's ground at Elmpark Way, which kicked off at 2.30pm.

The player, aged 32, is said to have collapsed during the half-time interval after coming off the pitch earlier, unwell.

Blakeley also played rugby union for Cleckheaton during the winter.

Yorkshire Ambulance Service confirmed it was called to the ground at 3.29pm to deal with a collapsed player.

North Yorkshire Police are understood to have been called just after 4pm after the player was pronounced dead at the scene.

There are believed to be no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death.

A club statement from Birkenshaw said: "Birkenshaw Rugby League Club are sorry to inform of the passing of 32 year old Max Blakeley.

"Max came off the pitch and later became poorly. Paramedics were called but were unable to revive him. His family have requested privacy at this difficult time. The club will issue a further statement when appropriate."

After the news broke several clubs and organisations voiced their sadness.

A spokesman for Bradford Bulls said: "Everyone at the Bradford Bulls is very sad to hear of the passing of Maxwell Blakeley, who passed away during Birkenshaw Bluedogs Rugby League Club game against Heworth earlier today.

"Prayers go out to his family, friends, teammates and everyone in Rugby League community at this extremely traumatic time. RIP."

A tweet from Heworth Rugby League Club read: "No words can describe what happened today (Saturday) at our Elmpark Way ground.

"All we can do at this very sad time is offer our condolences to all at Birkenshaw Rugby League."

Phil Caplan, for Yorkshire Men’s League management committee added: "It is with profound sadness that we can confirm Birkenshaw player Max Blakeley tragically passed away during a match at Heworth.

"The Rugby Football League has been informed, the Yorkshire Men's League have sent their deepest condolences."

Neil Gillan, chairman of Cleckheaton Rugby Union said on the club's website on Saturday evening: "It is with the deepest sadness that we have to report the passing today of Cleckheaton player Max Blakeley.

"Max was playing summer rugby league for local club Birkenshaw when he felt unwell.

"He collapsed moments later and despite the best efforts of medical staff, he was unable to be revived.

"Max was a club stalwart and we are devastated. He played union for the club for around 20 years and enjoyed playing league during the summer to keep fit.

"He liked playing at prop and was very reliable and dedicated.

"We can't believe that someone like Max who was so full of life could go so suddenly.

"Sleep tight Max you will be sorely missed."

Gillan said he was with a private party at York Races when they got the news and said it was a hot day but understood the Birkenshaw-Heworth match was being played in four quarters to allow players to take on water regularly.

He also said that the Cleckheaton club would offer support to any of their players who needed it following the tragedy.

Meanwhile, Lizzie Jones, whose husband Danny Jones died from a cardiac arrest while playing for Keighley Cougars at London Skolars in May 2015, expressed her sadness.

She tweeted: "So so sad to hear of the passing of Birkenshaw ARLFC player Max Blakeley.

"My prayers, love and strength are with Max's family, friends and team mates at this very sad time. Fly high Max."