Tributes have been flooding in for the popular rugby league / union forward Hugh Waddell who died on Friday (November 1) at the age of 60.

Carlisle-based Waddell had played for both the Carlisle Border Raiders and the city’s rugby union club, as well as the amateur RL side Egremont Rangers.

Born in Irvine, Ayrshire he was brought up in Burton-on-Trent and it was on a holiday in Blackpool with an early girl-friend, that he got his big break in rugby league.

Recalling his start in the game Waddell revealed: “I had played football for a local side in Burton-on-Trent and, when I was in Blackpool, I saw a sign for Blackpool Rugby League and she said I should go down for a trial, half jesting. But she egged me on and I did. I took to it like a duck to water and played for them for three-and-a-half years.”

He had an inspired game for Blackpool against Oldham which earned him a move to the Roughyeds, from where he got his international call-up. He was the only player from the second division selected to go on the 1988 Great Britain tour to Australia.

He starred in the Lions’ third Test victory over Australia in Sydney which earned him a move to Leeds.

Overall he won five Great Britain caps - in 1988 against France (2 matches), Australia, and New Zealand (with Oldham), and while at Leeds in 1989 against France.

He spent part of one season playing in Australia for Manly and on returning to Leeds subsequently played for Sheffield, and several clubs on loan - Swinton, Rochdale, South Wales. He joined Carlisle in 1994 as player-coach but left after a disappointing start to the season.

Talking about the Carlisle experience some years ago, Waddell said: “At that time everywhere I went seemed to be going through a transition period! Carlisle was no different. I came up here to take over from Cameron Bell as coach but, with him going, the New Zealand element disappeared.

“There weren’t many players up here and money was short. We were always scrapping around for an ‘A’ Team and even a first-team at times. Everyone gave their all but when you’re battling against finances it isn’t easy.”

He had a brief spell with Egremont Rangers and for the latter stages of his career played at Barrow and then was part of the Border Eagles team that won the Scottish Conference in 1998.

Although the coaching role at Carlisle did not work out for him, he settled in the city working in various positions including security and delivery driving.

Numerous household names in rugby league have been paying tribute to Hugh since his sudden death, with a recurring theme – a fierce competitor on the field and a gentleman and fine human being off it.

Former Leeds and Great Britain team-mate Garry Schofield said: “He wasn’t just a physically strong prop who never took a backward step, but he had a good passing game into the bargain. He was also a great person and a real character. He was something of a gentleman who didn’t like getting drawn into controversy. In short, he was top quality both as a player and as a person.”