A GoFundMe appeal has been set up in memory of a 27-year-old rugby player who died during a match.

Arturas Rudys was the father of a two-year-old child Emilijus.

His girlfriend, Jolita, wrote on the fundraiser page that Mr Rudys "passed away very quickly" like it was "in a dream" while playing for Wisbech Rugby Club against Diss.

She also wrote: "It is a very hard time for us right now, I can't give up."

"I have to live and show the right path to the our child. I have never asked for money, but I want to reach out to you and ask for help."

It is understood that Mr Rudys - who was originally from Lithuania - went down during the match on Saturday afternoon and despite efforts of ambulance staff to resuscitate him on the pitch, he passed away.

The game Eastern Counties First Division match at the Chapel Road ground was abandoned.

Roger Pierson, from the Eastern Counties Rugby Union, said there had been a collision but that no head contact had been involved.

He said two of the Diss players who were medically qualified immediately went to the aid of the injured man but that he died on the pitch.

Mr Pierson described the tackle as a "rugby incident" and said everything was being done to support all the players involved.

"The RFU and the Injured Players' Foundation are already involved and that help will be offered to Wisbech and also to Diss rugby," he said.

The GoFundMe appeal in Mr Rudys' memory has already reached more than £13,000 - the target was £5000.

To contribute follow the link: https://gofund.me/ad0de491.

Wisbech Rugby Club said Mr Rudys was a "hugely valued and respected" member of the team and has cancelled all sessions as a mark of respect.

A shirt pinned to a tree at the club bears the tribute: "Arturas our team mate, our brother, our 14 forever."

Flowers have also been laid beside the tree.

Norwich Evening News: Tributes have poured in for Mr RudysTributes have poured in for Mr Rudys (Image: Wisbech RFC)

A statement from Wisbech Rugby Club said: “It is with great sadness that the club announces the death of Arturas Rudys during a match played on Saturday 14th October.

“Arturas, aged 27, was a hugely valued and respected member of our club who began his time at Wisbech RFC in 2013.

“Wisbech RFC thanks everyone who helped Arturas in his immediate moments of need yesterday including, club first aiders, teammates, and Diss RFC.

“The club also wishes to thank the emergency services and first responders who attended the scene.

“As a club we are in touch with Arturas’ family to offer our heartfelt sympathies and support.”

David Dobson, secretary at Wisbech Rugby Club, added: “He was, right from the start, a very polite and personable young man keen to get involved in rugby.

“He played some rugby in Lithuania before the family moved to England, and he got involved in the club.

“He made an immediate impact with players his own age and players older as a lad who was eager to improve his game and make himself available to play.”

Hundreds of messages of condolence have been posted on social media from rugby clubs around the region and across the country.

Norfolk RFU posted a message on Facebook saying: "Our thoughts and prayers are with our family and friends at Wisbech Rugby Club."

Norwich Rugby Club said: "The deepest condolences from everyone at Norwich Rugby Club to Wisbech Rugby Club and Diss Rugby Football Club and all affected by the tragic events of yesterday afternoon."

Dereham Rugby Club posted: "From everyone at Dereham, we pass on our condolences to Wisbech Rugby Club & the family & friends of the player who sadly passed away playing the game we all love yesterday. We also extend our thoughts to everyone at Diss Rugby Football Club in what must be a difficult time. Our rugby family sends our condolences and love."

West Norfolk Rugby Club added: "Thoughts are with you all from Wests" while Holt RFC posted: "Thoughts are with you all from Holt RFC" and Swaffham RUFC said: "Condolences from us all at Swaffham."

The East of England Ambulance Service said a player had suffered a cardiac arrest during the match.

Responders carried out CPR and used a defibrillator but the man "could not be resuscitated".

An EEAST spokesperson said: "Our thoughts are with their family and friends at this tragic time."

Two ambulances, the air ambulance and the fire service were called to the scene.