Rugby star killed in horrific motorway collision

Keri Holdsworth. Picture: SNS
Keri Holdsworth. Picture: SNS
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A FORMER women’s rugby star who won 15 caps for Scotland and worked as club physio for Watsonians has died in a horror road crash.

Keri Holdsworth suffered serious head and back injuries on Friday after her Renault Clio was involved in a head-on collision with a BMW in Hartlepool in north-east England.

The 36-year-old, who lived in Slateford, was airlifted from the motorway but passed away the following day at James Cook University Hospital.

Ms Holdsworth worked as a senior physiotherapist at the University of Edinburgh’s Fitness Assessment and Sports Injuries Centre (FASIC) at the Pleasance.

The clinic closed yesterday as a mark of respect, with its manager paying tribute to the “exceptionally good clinician”.

The rugby talent collected 15 caps for Scotland making her debut against Ireland in 2008 and competing in the Women’s World Cup in England in 2010, while turning out for club side Watsonian Ladies.

Kath Vass, co-captain of Watsonian Ladies, said the ex-rugby star had travelled to England the day before the accident to attend a course.

“Keri was an excellent physio who took no nonsense from the players and always wanted to expand her knowledge to do her job better,” said Ms Vass.

“She was number eight for our team, but also loved playing in the centres. She was a very formidable runner with the ball, quick and strong. It was great to have her in the side because she had played rugby at the University of Birmingham for a few years so she brought experience and was willing to pass that on.”

Ms Holdsworth was forced to “wind down” her playing commitments as her duties as a physio grew but was “still known to put on her boots and help us out from time to time”, Ms Vass said.

She added: “Players, officials and many other people gathered at the club on Sunday to remember her. You saw what a vast network of friends she had in her life and the very obvious gap she will leave behind.”

Ms Holdsworth, who has two brothers and a sister, was born in West Lothian but grew up in Northumberland.

In a statement her family said: “She was a beloved sister and daughter and her family and friends are devastated by her loss.”

After returning to Scotland to study physiotherapy at Queen Margaret University, she joined Watsonian Ladies in 2002. Keith Watters, club president of Watsonians, said: “This has come as a huge shock to everyone. Keri was a great person, a fantastic physio and a talented rugby player.

“She’d done a great job as physio for the first team and we were looking forward to working with her again next season.”

Treena Shaw, manager at FASIC where Ms Holdsworth had worked since November 2011, said: “Keri was an exceptionally good clinician, who was highly respected by fellow professionals, athletes and patients. Her knowledge and experience in sports medicine meant that she was in high demand across all sports, most notably in the university’s performance programmes. “As a colleague and a friend, she will be hugely missed. Our thoughts and condolences go to her family.”

Ms Holdsworth joined Watsonians as first XV physio in July 2011, and also worked in the same role for the Scottish Rugby Union.

She gained a degree in maths, sport and exercise science at the University of Birmingham before studying at QMU.

She was severely injured in the crash with a BMW M5, which took place at around 4.30pm on Friday on the A19 northbound.

The 45-year-old man driving the BMW suffered internal injuries and an injury to his ankle, and was treated in hospital.

Cleveland Police are appealing for witnesses to the collision – which closed the A19 for six hours – to come forward.