Mystery lingers over death of young rugby player

Jake Alabaster started his club career with Marist, before moving to Border.
He is pictured (centre) after Border won the premier championship last year.
PHOTO / Bevan Conley

It may take weeks to find out what killed former Steelform Wanganui representative Jake Alabaster.

The talented loose forward was found dead on Saturday morning, believed to have passed away in his sleep, age 24.

It's understood the results from an autopsy in Auckland will take weeks.

Members of a shocked rugby fraternity have speculated Alabaster may have been stung while beekeeping and had a fatal reaction.

He had spent some time overseas to recover from niggling sports injuries and returned recently to take up a beekeeping job.

He had been working in Northland last week.

Stunned members of the community took to Facebook to share their grief and condolences for Alabaster's family.

Posted Bronwyn Poulson: "So young"

Said Craig N Sandi Pye: "Condolences to the Alabaster family. My thoughts are with you all at this very sad time"

A post about his death on the Wanganui ChronicleFacebook page has reached thousands of people and been shared on other Facebook pages, with people expressing their condolences to the Alabaster family.

"Beautiful boy - just not fair", one woman said.

Another person posted on the Border Rugby and Sports Club page: "... he portrayed everything good about [a] young man playing rugby".

Alabaster debuted for the Wanganui senior team in their 2016 mid-year game against the Manawatu Evergreens in Palmerston North, when several veterans were rested, and scored a try despite going into the match with a sore AC joint.

"He played hurt because he knew that's what it was going to take," said Border club coach Ross Williams.

Alabaster was named in the Wanganui Development XV at the end of the season, but injuries hampered what was otherwise looking like a big career in rugby.

The case has been referred to the coroner.

Wanganui Chronicle 3/10/17