Tributes flood in for Wigan legend Bill Ashurst

Tributes have been paid from all around the world to Wigan rugby legend Bill Ashurst, who has died at the age of 74.

By Paul Kendrick
Wednesday, 15th June 2022, 8:45 am
Updated Wednesday, 15th June 2022, 6:32 pm

Ashurst, who also starred in Australia for Penrith, had been ill for some time, and recently returned to the UK from Down Under.

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"Wigan Warriors are devastated to hear of the passing of former player Bill Ashurst," read a tweet from the official club account. "Between 1968-1978, Ashurst made 185 appearances for his hometown club and became a Harry Sunderland Trophy winner. All our thoughts are with Bill’s family and friends at this sad time.”

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Bill Ashurst in action

Warriors star Willie Isa tweeted: “A Wigan legend. Rest in peace, Bill Ashurst.”

Penrith tweeted: "Panthers is saddened by the passing of former captain Bill Ashurst, who played 46 games for the club between 1974-76. Our thoughts are with Bill’s family and friends at this time."

Another of his former clubs, Wakefield Trinity, tweeted: “Wakefield Trinity are saddened to hear of the passing of former player, Bill Ashurst, who has passed away at the age of 74. RIP, Bill. Gone but never forgotten.”

The RFL tweeted: “The RFL sends condolences to the family and friends of Bill Ashurst, the former Wigan, Penrith Panthers and Great Britain forward, who has died at the age of 74.”

Balmain and Kangaroos legend Garry Jack tweeted: "Terrible news overnight to hear of the passing of Bill Ashurst. I was with Bill three weeks ago in Bathurst, Bill was part of the support team for Royce’s 300km walk for dementia. Very sad, life is too short! My condolences to his family and daughter Cathy. Rest In Peace Billy."

Former Widnes and Wales forward Jim Mills tweeted: “So saddened by the news that Bill Ashurst has passed away. Bill was a great forward who had it all, great hands and plenty of pace for a big man and also a great kicker of the ball and a tough cookie. Rest well Bill. Deepest sympathy to Bill’s family @WiganWarriorsRL @WTrinityRL”

Former Wigan media manager Dave Swanton tweeted: "Sad to read about the passing of @WiganWarriorsRL Bill Ashurst. Saw him on Sunday afternoon at the function in Standish. RIP."

The Riversiders supporters club tweeted: "We are extremely saddened to learn of the passing of our Vice President, Bill Ashurst. Bill was a huge part of our Riversiders family and will be deeply missed by us all…! Our thoughts are with Bill’s family and friends at this sad time…RIP…God Bless."

Ex-Wigan prop Keith Mason tweeted: “A beautiful kind man rest in paradise Bill Ashurst.”

Ince Rose Bridge tweeted: “On behalf of us all at Ince Rose Bridge, may I pass on our thoughts and deepest sympathy to the family of Bill Ashurst. Bill was a legend of the game both on and off the field. He was an outstanding player, coach and more importantly friend to all of us here at Ince Rose Bridge.”

Hindley ARLFC tweeted: “Hindley ARLFC are saddened to learn of the passing of @WiganWarriorsRL legend and ex-Hindley coach Bill Ashurst. We send our love and condolences to his loved ones and to all that were blessed to know him. Don't cry because it's over - smile because it happened". Sleep well coach.”

Long-time rugby league journalist Martyn Sadler tweeted: “Very sorry to hear about the death of the great Bill Ashurst, who was one of the finest rugby league players it was my privilege to have seen and then to get to know. There were very few more talented players than Bill. Condolences to his family. RIP”

Ashurst, who enjoyed two separate spells at Central Park during the 1960s and 1970s, was admitted to hospital at the beginning of April.

He wrote at the time: “Thank you to all my friends and family for all your best wishes and prayers. After many tests for a tummy bleed, I can go home. If not I must carry this tribulation called hospital food, wow give me Jim Mills anytime. Anyway, I am in high spirits and hope to be back in the company of friends soon.”

During his playing career, Ashurst also played for Runcorn Highfield, as well as representing Great Britain.

He came out of retirement, at the age of 40, in November 1988 to play one last game for Runcorn during a players’ strike – ironically against Wigan at Central Park, in the John Player Special Trophy.

However, he received an early red card following a difference of opinion with fellow Test back-rower Andy Goodway.