Father of rugby star dies after club attack brawl fight in

The father of the England international rugby player, Ben Cohen, died yesterday of serious head injuries from a nightclub attack a month ago. Peter Cohen, brother of the 1966 England World Cup star, George, had been in intensive care.

The father of the England international rugby player, Ben Cohen, died yesterday of serious head injuries from a nightclub attack a month ago. Peter Cohen, brother of the 1966 England World Cup star, George, had been in intensive care.

His son Ben, 22, who plays for Northampton, had just been named in the England team for Saturday's match against Australia. He was giving a radio interview at the England team base in the Pennyhill Park Hotel in Bagshot when officials drew him aside.

The Northampton Saints winger had been saying in the interview that he was much happier with his rugby now his father seemed to be improving. He was called outside the press room by the England coach, Clive Woodward, who gave him the bad news. His England teammate Matt Dawson drove him back to Northampton to be with his family.

Peter Cohen, 58, a former nightclub owner, had been attacked on 13 October after trying to make the peace between battling customers at the Eternity nightclub in Northampton, owned by his elder son Justin. Mr Cohen, whose injuries included bite marks on his face, was taken to Northampton General Hospital then transferred to a specialist neurological unit at Queen's Medical Centre for surgery in Nottingham after his condition deteriorated. His son had pulled out of Northampton's Heineken Cup defeat against Edinburgh Reivers to join his family's bedside vigil.

Peter Cohen was in a coma for three weeks but had recently regained consciousness and appeared to be improving, although it was believed he had brain damage. Eternity nightclub was opened in January by EastEnders' star Michael Greco, who plays Beppe Di Marco, and celebrities seen there have included actors Ross Kemp and Tamzin Outhwaite.

Four men from Northampton, aged 31, 32, 30 and 24, were arrested over the attack and are on police bail. A Home Office pathologist is to perform a post-mortem examination. A spokeswoman for Northampton police said: "We are currently treating the incident as a serious assault."

Ben Cohen signed to his local team Northampton in 1996 straight from school where he was a star player. Before the attack, he was being tipped to be an England regular. The experienced Austin Healey had been dropped to allow the "fantastic strike force" of wingers Ben Cohen and Dan Luger to play for the first time.

It was considered a gamble to drop the experienced and nimble Healey.

"Cohen is in exceptional form," Mr Woodward said then. "I watched him score three tries for Northampton last Saturday, and it is the first time he and Luger have been fit at the same time to play for England. Mr Woodward may have to alter his line-up after Saturday's match. It would have been his seventh cap.

England team officials said it would be at least 24 hours before they could announce whether Ben Cohen would be able to face Australia.

An RFU spokesman said: "Our deepest sympathies are with Ben and his family."

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