A FORMER Irish rugby international has died after he was knocked off his motor scooter and left critically injured on the side of the road following a suspected hit-and-run incident in Rome.
Brendan Lynch (26), a tight head prop who represented Ireland at U-19 level, was killed on Sunday night after his Honda scooter collided with another vehicle before the driver of the vehicle left the scene.
Police believe he was either struck by a speeding hit-and-run driver or a lorry driver who did not notice the collision.
Mr Lynch was in the Ireland U-19 squad that travelled to the IRB U-19 World Championships in South Africa in 2005, where he played in four games.
It was dark and rainy at the time of the accident, which happened near Settebagni on the northern periphery of Rome.
Passing motorists came to his aid and called the emergency services but he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Born in Rotherham in the UK, he was eligible to represent Ireland through his parents, who flew out to Rome on Monday to arrange his body's repatriation back to either the UK or Ireland.
Mr Lynch had played professionally for Rotherham Titans and for a team in Alghero, Sardinia, before moving to Rome where he was a regular first-team player for the city's main rugby club, Unione Rugby Capitolina.
He had recently retired from professional rugby after securing a job at the UN's Food and Agricultural Organisation in the Italian capital.
"He had been here just a few months but he was already one of us," said Paolo Vaccari, the president of the Capitolina rugby club. "He was a great player, an exemplary professional."
The club paid tribute to him on its website and has suspended all activities at the club for 24 hours as a mark of respect.
An IRFU spokesperson told the Irish Independent that the wider rugby community in Ireland has been left stunned by his untimely death.
"We would like to pass on their deepest condolences to the family of Brendan Lynch," he said.