TRIBUTES have been paid to the “larger than life” president of a Cumbrian rugby union club – who has died aged 64.

Les McTear rose through the ranks at Aspatria RUFC, becoming a regular in the first team and – prior to his death on Friday – was club president.

The Cumbrian rugby legend had been battling illness for some time and has been hailed for his fighting spirit and ongoing dedication to local rugby.

“He started playing for the club when he was still a school boy,” explained club treasurer Barney Clegg, 67, who knew Les since he was a boy.

“He gravitated to our first team, came through the ranks and won several Cumbria Cup medals. He was also selected to play for the county.”

But when Les hung up his boots for the last time, it was by no means the end of his contribution.

“After his playing days he was always involved with the club. In his later years he joined our committee, and actually became president two years ago.”

But it was not just his decication to the club which led to him being so revered.

“He was a larger than life character. You won’t find anybody who would say a bad word about him.

“He was a marvellous storyteller, he didn’t do it professionally but he was quite an accomplished speaker.

“He did a few events for us. He would light up any room. He will be a real miss to us all.”

Even when times were tough and illness had taken hold, Les would always make the effort to attend a match or a meeting.

“He would never miss a game, he would summon everyone to the car to give instructions. He fought it (the illness) to the bitter end, it was heartbreaking.”

This week Aspatria RUFC are also mourning the sad death of Norman Lazonby, another committee man, president and life member.

He was 81.