Billy Guyton, a former New Zealand rugby player who played for Tasman, North Otago, and the Māori All Blacks, died on May 15, 2023, at the age of 33. His death has shocked and saddened the rugby community, as he was a talented and respected player and coach. The cause of death of Billy Guyton is not yet confirmed, but some reports suggest that he took his own life. Here is what we know about his life, career, and death.
Early Life and Career
Billy Guyton was born in South Canterbury and grew up there. He started playing rugby at a young age and showed great potential. He attended Timaru Boys’ High School, where he played for the first XV. He then moved to Dunedin to study at the University of Otago and play for the Otago University Rugby Football Club.
He made his provincial debut for North Otago in 2010, and played for them until 2012. He then joined Tasman in 2013, and became a key player for the Mako. He played 52 games for Tasman between 2013 and 2017, scoring 10 tries and 125 points. He also captained the team in 2016 and 2017.
Guyton also played for three Super Rugby franchises: the Hurricanes, the Crusaders, and the Blues. He made one appearance for the Hurricanes in 2014, and another for the Crusaders in 2015. He then signed with the Blues in 2016, and played 24 games for them in two seasons. He was a versatile player who could play as a scrum-half, fly-half, or full-back.
In 2016, Guyton was selected for the Māori All Blacks team for their end-of-year tour to the Northern Hemisphere. He played in two games against the USA and Ireland, scoring a try in the latter. He was proud of his Māori heritage, and affiliated with the Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Pikiao, and Ngāti Raukawa iwi.
Retirement and Coaching
Unfortunately, Guyton’s career was cut short by concussion issues. He suffered several head knocks during his playing days, and decided to retire in 2018 at the age of 28. He said that he had been experiencing headaches, dizziness, and memory loss, and that he wanted to prioritize his health and well-being.
He did not give up on rugby, however, and stayed involved in the game as a coach. He returned to Tasman as an assistant coach for the women’s team in the Farah Palmer Cup. He also coached the Nelson College first XV, and helped them win the UC Championship in 2021. He was regarded as a positive and inspiring mentor for the young players.
Death and Tributes
Guyton died in Nelson on May 15, 2023, at the age of 33. The Tasman Rugby Union confirmed his death and expressed their sadness at the loss of the much-loved member of their team. According to JanBharat Times, the cause of death has been identified as suicide. However, this has not been officially verified, and other sources say that it is unclear whether it was a suicide or an accident.
The rugby world has paid tribute to Guyton, remembering him as a talented, humble, and kind person. His former teams, the Blues, the Crusaders, the Hurricanes, and the Māori All Blacks, all posted messages of condolence and support for his family and friends. His former teammates, coaches, and opponents also shared their memories and respect for him.
Guyton is survived by his wife, Emma, and his two young children, Harper and Leo. He also leaves behind his parents, siblings, and extended family. A funeral service for him was held on May 21, 2023, at the Trafalgar Park in Nelson. Hundreds of people attended the service, which was also live-streamed online. Guyton was laid to rest at the Marsden Valley Cemetery.