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Ian Laybourn, rugby league’s journalist of record, passes

Ian Laybourn (right), courtesy Huddersfield Giants - giantsrl.com

Sports journalist and rugby league specialist Ian Laybourn has died aged 67, just three months after he retired.

Laybourn had covered rugby league for five decades, starting out at the Batley News and later moving to the Huddersfield Daily Examiner.

He joined the Press Association in 1994 as a sub-editor and continued to cover the sport until November 2022 when he retired at the conclusion of the Rugby League World Cup, which was held in England last year.

Laybourn once surmised he had covered around 2,500 rugby league matches in his storied career.

PA sports editor Ashley Broadley told Love Rugby League: “Ian was an outstanding reporter, with a deep understanding and love for the sport of rugby league. We are all devastated at the news and are thinking of Ian’s family and friends at this sad time.”

Laybourn was added to the Rugby Football League Roll of Honour in 2022 when Ralph Rimmer, then the RFL chief executive, thanked him for covering the sport “with diligence, wisdom and care for almost five decades.”

Huddersfield Giants managing director Richard Thewlis said: “The news has come as a terrible shock to us all. Ian was a rugby league man through and through, hugely respected in all spheres of the game and had rightly been recognised for his contribution to the sport over many years by the RFL and most recently ourselves. We send our deepest sympathies to his wife Susan and all his family and friends.”

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