MIKE Richards’ grieving family have issued a heartfelt tribute to their son.

In a statement they said: "Mike was the most special son and thoughtful brother, and a loving boyfriend to Rachel. He was a real character who brought fun and laughter into our lives every single day.

"We can’t begin to explain how much we will all miss him and how big a gap he leaves behind.

"Mike was a keen sportsman, taking in interest in all kinds of sports, but his first love was rugby. He was a talented rugby player, who also loved supporting his national side and was looking forward to the outcome of this year’s Six Nations.

"As a family we have been touched and comforted by the support of our local community, who turned out in large numbers last weekend at a special event in Mike’s honour.

"Our son was one of those people who was able to be friends with people all ages and from all walks of life.

"To everyone who came out for us last weekend and those who have comforted us, we’d like to say thank you."