The Rugby Football League has joined those paying their respects to Yorkshire Post journalist Raymond Fletcher, who’s died after a long illness.

He’s been remembered by colleagues as not just “one of the sport’s great journalists” but also an “unrivalled statistician when it came to all things rugby league.”

As well as spending 20 years at the paper (between 1975 and 1995), he was also the official statistician for the RFL from 1991 until his retirement in 2011 and co-editor of the Rothmans Rugby League Yearbook from 1980 until 1999.

“It is with great sadness that we have learned of the death of Ray Fletcher, a man whose work touched on the lives of so many people in Rugby League. The depth of Ray’s knowledge of Rugby League, its clubs, its players and its heritage was only surpassed by his passion for the game,” said RFL communications manager John Ledger.

“Only a few weeks ago Ray bequeathed his meticulously kept records and collections to the RFL Benevolent Fund:  the sport is all the richer for his work over the last half-century and more.

“Our thoughts are with Ray’s wife Muriel and family at this sad time. He will be sorely missed.”

A lifelong Hull FC supporter, Fletcher was only the fourth journalist to hold the rugby league correspondent role at the Yorkshire Post – since the sport’s foundation in 1895.

His services to rugby league were recognised in 2011 when he was inducted into the RFL Roll of Honour.