An inquest at Salisbury, Wiltshire, was told that, on January 11 spectator John Downey fell backwards and banged his head as he looked at the ball after it was kicked into the crowd by a player in a match at Royal Wootton Bassett Rugby club.

He was taken to the Great Western Hospital before being transferred to the John Radcliffe hospital where he died on January 23.

Cause of death was acute subdural haemorrhage and trauma.

The rugby club is being ‘supported’ by the RFU after the ‘freak accident’ during an action-packed match.

John, 79, suffered an horrific head injury in the extraordinary tragedy during the 41-point thriller at the club.

With his hands in his pockets, he fell backwards and banged his head on a window sill as he watched the ball.

It had been kicked by a player high in the air and into the 200-strong crowd. The game continued.

The father of three was rushed by ambulance to the Great Western Hospital, Swindon, but transferred to the John Radcliffe hospital where he died 12 days after the accident.

Yesterday, the RFU said it had been told about the incident by the club.

“It is such a sad situation. We have been in liaison with the club and are supporting them,” a spokesperson said.

At their home in Bradford on Avon, Mr Downey’s wife Julie was too distraught to talk about the incident.

In a statement the club chair Chris Elias said: ”John was a guest of Ron Low at the Vice President’s lunch and was enjoying his first visit to RWBRFC.

“During the game, John fell backwards on the patio striking his head on the clubhouse window sill. It was a freak accident. We have had to tell the HQ of the RFU.

The inquest was adjourned to a date to be fixed.