Jon Beeton – Remembering 10 Years Since His Tragic Passing
There were a number of common threads to emerge from our conversations with members of the inaugural UAE national side over recent months but none of them as emotive or heartfelt as the subject of fellow team-mate, Jon Beeton.
Tragically, within a matter of weeks of the final game of the Asian Five Nations campaign and some of the high points of their sporting careers, the UAE team was united in grief after Beeton – affectionately known as ‘Studente’ – was critically injured in a freak boating accident.
The 27-year-old South African had been an ever-present and standout performer for the UAE throughout the season but was left in an induced coma and fighting for his life, a fight he ultimately lost later that summer.
“In 2011, Jon had been playing very well for the club, he had won player of the year for the Exiles and as his club skipper I had recommended him to trial for the UAE,” explains former Exiles and UAE captain, Mike Cox-Hill.
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“Despite his lack of international experience, he was totally committed to doing the best he could do, and I remember before the Japan game telling him to go out, play his game, tackle anything that came his way, and to run like never before if he got the chance.”
Beeton duly produced one of the standout moments of the UAE’s season in an otherwise forgettable outing against the heavyweights of Asia Rugby, as he intercepted the ball inside his own half and sprinted clear, only to be caught agonisingly short of the try-line.
“I remember lying on the ground and seeing him running towards the Japan line, shouting like crazy to score,” Cox-Hill recalls.
“He was a great bloke off the pitch, he and his wife, Tammy, were a lovely couple and they never had a bad word to say about anybody. They were just young, in love and enjoying life in Dubai.”
Describing the interception as the ‘defining moment’ of ‘an amazing experience’, another former Exiles team-mate, Stuart Quinn, was effusive in his praise for Beeton.
“I think I can speak for the guys to say that Jon was an exemplary team-mate, a top human and someone who showed us all that with effort and determination you can fulfill dreams.”
“His work ethic was superb, and he never let anyone down. Losing him was tragic and made us all realise that chances in life are finite and that we should always take them with both hands, like Jon did. He will always have a special place in the hearts of that squad,” the ex-UAE scrum-half added.
The strength of Beeton’s character and attitude, both on and off the pitch, was further reflected by former Abu Dhabi Harlequins prop, Chris Jones-Griffiths.
“Obviously, I wouldn’t have known Jon as well as the Exiles lads, but he was a proper rugby bloke, a good honest player to play with, and a well-liked member of the squad, as proved by the turnout at the match played in his honour between an Exiles XV and a UAE select side.”
Indeed, it wasn’t just his team-mates that Beeton made an impression on, as former UAE assistant coach, Shane Thornton outlines.
“Jon Beeton was a special guy and talented rugby player. That loss brought the boys even closer together and I think even brought down any barriers of mixing with clubs. It feels like yesterday when he was on tour with us and having a laugh and enjoying the game.”
Although his involvement with UAE rugby was all too fleeting, Jon Beeton’s the legacy of his contribution to that historic period lives on, and long may it continue to.