Leicester Tigers are saddened to hear of the death of former player and club president Brian Small at the age of 88.
After playing for Westleigh and Leicestershire, Brian made the first of 159 appearances for the club at Christmas 1954 and remained a first-teamer until April 1963, playing mainly at full-back.
His younger brother Bob also made more than 100 appearances for the club.
A partner in his own firm of solicitors, Brian was awarded an MBE in 1977 and served as president of Tigers 1989-91.
His son Steve said: “Dad was very proud and fond of the Tigers family. I think he was modest about his contributions over the years but I know that he did everything with his best efforts, in the best interests of the club and have no doubt that he was a valuable cog in the machinery which helped make the club what it is.
“Anyone connected to Brian would undoubtedly know his wife Veronica was also passionate about the club. Veronica passed peacefully at home a short six weeks before Brian and they rest together.
“While we know that Dad made his contribution to the club, with my sisters Jude and Helen, we would like to thank the people of the club for everything they gave back to him. His time as President was a special honour and pleasure for him.
“Ultimately the friends and connections he made over the decades in this great rugby family enriched his life beyond measure and gave him immense joy. So thank you to all.”
After a family funeral service, they hope to arrange a memorial service for Brian and Veronica in the autumn.
Tigers chairman Peter Tom said: “Brian was always thought of fondly at Tigers, both as a player and later in an era when the club relied on the voluntary efforts of so many unsung people behind the scenes. On behalf of everyone associated with the club, we send very best wishes and sincere condolences to his family and friends.”