A look over Ricky Bibey's rugby career as death in Italy confirmed this July

Eve Edwards July 17, 2022
A look over Ricky Bibey's rugby career as death in Italy confirmed this July
Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Former rugby league footballer Ricky Bibey has passed away at the age of 40, with the Manchester Evening News reporting he died on holiday in Italy.

News broke on Sunday, 17 July 2022 that the Leigh-born prop had passed. A cause of death has yet to be announced.

The Focus takes a look back over Ricky Bibey’s career and the injury that saw him retire aged 30.

29 Mar 2002: Ricky Bibey of Wigan Warriors runs with the ball during the Tetley’s Super League match between Wigan Warriors and Castleford Tigers played at The JJB Stadium, in Wigan, England. Wigan Warriors won the match 34-12. DIGITAL IMAGE. \ Mandatory Credit: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Leigh East confirm Ricky Bibey’s death age 40

Ricky Bibey started out his rugby football career as a junior for Leigh East, his home town in Greater Manchester.

It was Leigh East who would go on to confirm their former player had passed away.

On Sunday, 17 July 2022, Leigh East’s Twitter account reported news of Ricky Bibey’s passing. The club announced: “All at the club are saddened to hear about the death of our former junior Ricky Bibey, who passed away on holiday. Ricky played professionally for a number of clubs including Leigh, Wigan, St Helens and Wakefield.”

“Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time,” their statement concluded.

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The Mirror added Italian news outlet La Nazione reported Bibey was found dead at the Hotel Continentale in Florence.

A look back at Ricky Bibey’s rugby career

Born 22 September 1981, Ricky Bibey started out his professional rugby career aged 20.

In 2001, Bibey burst into the professional rugby world with Wigan Warriors. He made four appearances in his debut year, playing for Wigan during Super League VI 2001. Bibey remained with Wigan until 2004 and went on to make appearances for Leigh Centurions, St Helens and Wakefield Trinity.

A highlight of Bibey’s career includes winning the Challenge Cup not once, but twice. Bibey won with St Helens against former team Wigan in 2004. He had lifted the cup with Wigan in 2002.

Ricky Bibey retires age 30 after career-ending injury

In May 2012, an Achilles tendon injury saw Ricky Bibey retire after a decade of playing professional rugby football. Leigh Journal reported Leigh Centurions head coach Paul Rowley’s statement at the time of the injury: “Ricky received some news from the specialist last Friday that advised him to discontinue playing rugby.

“He’s a big loss for us, both on the field and around the club. Ricky has had a fantastic career and he’s been a very good professional.”

Ricky Bibey was 30 years old when he was forced to retire from the game.

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Tributes to Ricky Bibey flood the internet

As news of Ricky Bibey’s death broke, a number of rugby teams and players paid homage to the former star.

A spokesperson for Wakefield Trinity announced on Twitter: “Trinity are saddened to hear of the passing of former prop-forward Ricky Bibey, aged 40. Ricky played for Trinity between 2007 and 2009, making 60 appearances. We send our condolences to Ricky’s family and friends at this tough time.”

Former player Leon Pryce tweeted: “Sincere condolences to Ricky’s family. We played against each other since the age of about 14. Yorkshire vs Lancashire and together for England schools boys U16s. A great lad. Absolutely devastating news.”

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Eve Edwards is a staff writer for The Focus who has been with GRV Media since April 2019. Having gained a BA (Hons) in History from the University of Bristol, Eve joined GRV starting out as a writer for Reality Titbit before making her way over to HITC. With a passion for music, TV, and cultural news, Eve eventually found a home at The Focus. Eve spent 2021-2022 freelancing for GRV Media while she completed a Masters in Music Performance, and brings her wide array of interests to the company in her written work. In Eve's spare time you'll find her working her way through the day's Wordle, Heardle, and Quordle, or struggling to complete The Guardian's cryptic crossword.