Former England star Will Greenwood has revealed his aunt died having contracted COVID-19.

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Greenwood wrote in his newspaper column that she had fallen ill with the virus last week but broke the sad news that she had passed away due to the illness on Saturday morning.

“Many of you have been so kindly asking me about my Aunty Jean.

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“I had mentioned in a newspaper and on my podcast that she was poorly with COVID-19.

“Aunty Jean passed away yesterday morning.”

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“Eldest of 3 sisters. Aunty Jean was in her 80s but had so much living to do.

“Aunty Jean never ever ever did anything but bring sunshine in to my life. She lived near my boarding school and would pop in as often as she could to make sure I had Quavers, Pot Noodles, Parma Ham, a bit of cash, knowing how far from home I was.

“Aunty Jean lived in and around sport all her life and was so kind to everyone she met. Kindness, generosity of spirit, a giver of time.

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“It has knocked all of us in the family. My cousin Claire has lost her Mum who had so many more years to give. Aunty Jean never got to meet her newly born Great Granddaughter.

“We will all miss you Aunty Jean.”

Referee Nigel Owens was one of the first in the rugby community to pass on his condolences. “So sorry to hear of your loss. Deepest sympathy to you and all the family”.

ITV Good Morning anchor Piers Morgan also sent his best wishes. “So sorry to hear this Will. RIP Jean.”

The news brings home the very immediate threat posed to loved ones and those at a higher risk of the deadly virus sweeping the planet.

The effect of COVID-19 on rugby union as a sport has been far-reaching.

The Premiership has been suspended for 5-weeks and the Premiership Rugby Cup final between Sale and Harlequins was originally given the go-ahead, only to be postponed two days prior following an individual on staff developing symptoms consistent with coronavirus.

Wasps were the first club to impose reductions of 25 per cent to player wages to offset the slump in revenue caused by the suspension of the Gallagher Premiership, with many more following suit.

The RFU ended the season for all league, cup and county rugby in England, with the Gallagher Premiership – which was in a five-week suspension – the only exception.

The Guinness PRO14 was suspended indefinitely.

The Super Rugby season was suspended after the decision of the New Zealand government to quarantine people entering the country for 14 days.

Rugby Australia closed its Sydney headquarters for an “intensive clean” after two members of its Australian Sevens program showed signs and symptoms associated with coronavirus.

South Africa Rugby suspended all competitive matches until April 25 at the earliest and called off all national team training camps and business travel.

The men’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournaments in London and Paris, the women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournament in Langford and the men’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series event were all postponed.

The World Rugby U20 Championship due to take place in Italy over the summer was cancelled.

– additional reporting PA

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