'Passionate and fiercely intelligent' Guardian sports writer Dan Lucas dies suddenly aged 31

Tributes have been paid to Guardian rugby and cricket writer Dan Lucas who has died suddenly aged 31.

Lucas was live blogging the Six Nations match between England and Scotland on Saturday in his final piece for the title on the day before his death.

His girlfriend, journalist Elizabeth Aubrey, announced the news on Twitter. “It is with the greatest sadness I must tell you that my beloved Dan Lucas has passed away suddenly,” she said.

“He was the best person in the world.”

Lucas was born in Northampton to parents Gary and Tracey and was older brother to sister Kirsty.

He studied German at Lancaster University and held music and sport as his twin passions, writing music reviews in his spare time.

It was while editor of music website Louder Than War that he met Aubrey, then a contributor to the site.

She told Press Gazette Lucas was an “incredibly gifted” writer and “unlike anything out there, beautifully tender and sophisticated, quite scathing but also gloriously geeky”.

“Dan was very opinionated,” she added. “He never sat on the fence.”

Dan Lucas with girlfriend Elizabeth

Lucas later put his writing style to use at the Guardian’s Over By Over cricket blog, also covering rugby union matches for the title, a job Aubrey said he “adored”.

She added: “Dan had such an encyclopedic knowledge of sport. He could recite the most obscure sport statistic to you in the middle of a conversation. He was very knowledgeable and he worked hard to develop that into a career.”

Lucas died on Sunday evening in what is understood to have been the result of complications from a fall a few days earlier in which he broke his foot.

Aubrey said: “We are all absolutely devastated because he was the best person and love of my life.

“He had no doubt we would spend our lives together. We had been together for close to six years. There’s an enormous whole in my life now and in the lives of his friends and family.”

She added: “We are drawing lots of strength from the kind comments people have made.”

Lucas’ love of sport was inherited from his father, who took him to watch Northampton Saints rugby team as a boy.

Gary told Press Gazette the family had been “amazed” by the reaction to his son’s death. “We didn’t realise just how widely he had touched people,” he said. “We are shedding tears of sadness and tears of pride.”

He added: “Although Dan was only with us a short time he has touched and influenced so many people. It makes a life worthwhile, even if it is short-lived, and will give us something to look back on.”

Dan Lucas with his father Gary

Tributes to Lucas came from family, friends and both current and former colleagues.

Guardian sports features editor Sachin Nakrani said on Twitter: “Devastated to yesterday hear of the death of colleague Dan Lucas. A warm-spirited and witty soul taken far too soon. RIP buddy.”

The Guardian’s head of sport, Owen Gibson, said in a statement: “In many ways Dan epitomised the appeal of the Guardian’s live coverage and the community it has fostered over many years.

“First as a contributor and then as one of its main writers, he combined a love of sport with forensic knowledge to paint a picture of the action for readers and keep them involved.

“He was a talented journalist and a much liked presence around the office. Our thoughts are obviously with his family, friends and girlfriend Liz at this time. He will be much missed.”

Louder than War editor John Robb said in a blog post: “God bless you Dan, you were a wonderful, passionate and fiercely intelligent person and it was an honour to talk and argue music with you in the time that I knew you from when you started writing for Louder Than War and then became my first music editor.

“These impassioned music conversations would continue when we met as well. Great debates. Great music passion.”

Sean Adams, editor of Drowned in Sound – a music site Lucas also contributed to – said in an Instagram post: “Woke up today to a devastating reminder of quite how short and fragile life is… my deepest condolences go out to Liz and his family.”

Funeral arrangements will be announced shortly.

Picture credit: The Guardian

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