Life can be awful cruel sometimes.
With the greatest of respect and the heaviest of hearts, Ben Youngs has withdrawn from the 2017 British & Irish Lions tour to New Zealand.
The Leicester and England scrum-half made the call after his sister-in-law, Tiffany Youngs, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Tiffany is married to Youngs’ brother, fellow rugby player Tom Youngs.
Youngs has released a heartfelt, touching statement via his club, Leicester Tigers. He says:
“We are a very close family and, as I am sure everyone can respect, time is now precious together.
“The most important thing for me at this difficult time is to be able to offer as much support as I can to Tom and his family in the remaining time we all have together.
“It is a great honour to be selected as a member of the British & Irish Lions squad and I would like to thank Warren Gatland, the staff and the other players for their understanding in this situation. I wish them well and, like all rugby supporters in Britain and Ireland, hope they have a successful tour.”
Youngs’ grace and carefully chosen words really put sporting concerns into perspective.
The coming days and weeks will be tough. It won’t get much easier in the coming years either but it is heartening to see the Youngs family come together at such a devastating time.