British rugby coach Rob Walton died in the south of France after a powerful wave hit him on the spine while he swam on a family holiday.
Mr Walton, 36, was a player and head coach for Rugby Lions, the Rugby-based rugby club, and a former lock for Birmingham and Solihull RFC.
According to a statement released by North Midlands RFU, Mr Walton, who was a father of four, is believed to have suffered "fatal whiplash injuries" while he was body boarding in the sea at Labanne, near Biarritz in south-west France.
As reported by French paper SudOuest, his body was spotted at around 1:45pm in the supervised swimming area off the beach.
Paramedics and lifeguards tried to resuscitate him for almost half an hour, but were too late to save his life.
Before playing for Rugby Lions, Mr Walton started his career at Hinckley RFC and had stints at Coventry and Rotherham. He had just finished his second season with Rugby.
He was highly regarded as a player, and friends and colleagues paid tribute to him on social media.
Using Mr Walton's nickname, Alex Davidson, Director of Rugby at the Luctonians club, wrote on Facebook: "Devastated. Always enjoyed Horse's friendship and playing alongside him. Top bloke, great memories, huge loss to the game. Thoughts to his family."
In a statement on their website, Birmingham & Solihull RFC wrote: “The club was deeply saddened to hear the news regarding Rob Walton."
RIP Rob Walton, mate you were a great lock to play next to and one of the few blokes I've had to look upwards too. You'll be missed :-(— Old Darkness (@Old_Darkness) August 11, 2015
“Rob, who was a highly popular second row forward with the club in the early noughties, died in tragic circumstances while swimming off the wothwest coast of France yesterday."
“Rob, or Horse as he was affectionately known by many at the club, will be remembered as a great player, a wonderful individual and a fantastic clubman."Reuse content