A former rugby union star took his life while receiving treatment at a private mental health clinic in Norfolk, a court has heard.

Nick Köster, a South African who played for Bath and Bristol, died in July 2023 while an in-patient at Priory Hospital in Attleborough, having been admitted a month earlier.

Köster, whose birth name was Ralph, had moved to Norwich after his playing career ended and was living in Eaton at the time of his death.

Investigations are continuing into the 34-year-old's death, with a full inquest due to be held later in the year.

Eastern Daily Press:

But during a preliminary hearing in Norwich yesterday, details were heard of his family's fight to secure him mental health treatment in the last months of his life.

The court heard that he had initially been referred to the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, but after struggling to see one of the trust's psychiatrists he instead sought care privately.

He had two placements at hospitals run by the Priory Group, first in Chelmsford, between May 10 and 24, and later in Attleborough from June 14.

At the opening of his inquest in January, it was heard that the father-of-two was due to be discharged from the hospital on July 12, four weeks after his original admission.

But the day before, he left the hospital and was found hanging by a member of the public in a wooded area close to the facility.

During the preliminary hearing, his sister Terena Köster said there were "systemic concerns" in his mental health care that she hoped the inquest would explore.

She said: "I feel there are a lot of things that need to be understood about how his health continued to deteriorate and that is a systemic concern."

Area coroner Samantha Goward adjourned the case for a full inquest, which will be held for two days from October 1.



Nick Köster was born in Robertson, South Africa, on February 22, 1989.

Growing up in his native country, Köster studied at Bishops College in Cape Town where he represented the first team in 2006 and 2007.

He was considered one of the country's brightest prospects and was dubbed a 'schoolboy sensation', representing South Africa at under-18 level.

At the age of 19, he represented Western Province in the Currie Cup and featured on the bench at Wembley Stadium for the Barbarians against Australia.

In 2012, he signed for Premiership side Bath before moving to Bristol Bears the following year, where he spent the majority of his professional career.

The South African played as a back row forward, either as a flanker or number eight.

Following his death, both clubs paid public tribute to him, with former Bath head coach Andy Robinson describing him as a "wonderful human being".

After retiring from professional rugby in 2018, he went on to captain Cambridge University in the Varsity match against Oxford at Twickenham.

He was also the university club's co-chairman, while studying for a masters in social innovation.