Rugby coach halts illegal immigrant who hid underneath team bus from France

Bury St Edmunds rugby club coach Andy Herlihy stops illegal Sudanese immigrant from making his escap

Bury St Edmunds rugby club coach Andy Herlihy stops illegal Sudanese immigrant from making his escape. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Rugby players returned home with more than they bargained for following a trip to France.

For the U15s team from Bury St Edmunds rugby club brought back two illegal immigrants.

One was stopped by border police at Calais but the other remained hidden underneath their bus until it arrived back in Suffolk – and he then tried to flee.

But as he made his getaway, he was stopped by U15 coach Andy Herlihy outside the clubhouse at Haberden ground, on Southgate Green. A total of 17 boys had travelled to just outside Le Mans to play Nogent Le Routre Pecherons Rugby Club. And although they lost the match 39-29 the main talking point of the trip was the extra 'passengers' they picked up on their way home on Sunday.

The pair of Sudanese immigrants managed to secrete themselves onto the bus when it stopped for a break on the A16 near Rouen, according to Mr Herlihy, who said: 'But when we got back to Bury at 8pm the other one crawled from underneath the bus and tried to get away. He was making his way off and if he had kept going he would have got into town. I managed to get in front of him and asked him to stop. I put my hand on his chest to make sure that he was not going to make a dash for it. He was compliant but was extremely scared and shocked.'

Mr Herlihy said that when they arrived at the port of Calais the bus was subject to the usual security checks. It seemed to have attracted additional interest and further scrutiny revealed a stowaway. An illegal immigrant was removed from high up in the wheel arch but the drama took a further twist as the team and their parents alighted from the bus in Bury and police arrived and arrested a 26-year-old man.

A spokesman for Suffolk police said: 'Police were called at around 8.15pm on Sunday. Officers attended and arrested a 26-year-old man who was then taken to Bury St Edmunds Police Investigation Centre from where he was transferred into the custody of immigration enforcement officers.'

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Club president Chris Berry was on the trip and said: 'It was an unusual way to end an U15 tour and you always like to bring back a momento but not a stowaway. He said he had been travelling across Europe for six months.'