Nick Koster

Nick Köster had settled in Norwich, UK after retiring from professional rugby. Image: WPrugby

Death of SA rugby star Nick Koster under investigation

An investigation is underway into the death of former Stormers loose forward Nick Koster while at a mental health clinic in the UK.

Nick Koster

Nick Köster had settled in Norwich, UK after retiring from professional rugby. Image: WPrugby

South African rugby player Nick Koster took his own life in July 2023, raising concerns over his mental healthcare.

Koster was undergoing treatment at the Priory Hospital in Attleborough, UK where he was admitted a month earlier.

The versatile loose forward, who had played for Bath Rugby, settled in Norwich after retiring from professional rugby. He was residing in Eaton at the time of his death.

The circumstances surrounding the 34-year-old’s suicide are still being investigated. A full inquest is scheduled for later in the year, reports the Eastern Daily Press.

Nick Koster had to seek private healthcare

During a preliminary hearing in Norwich, details emerged of Koster’s family’s efforts to secure mental health treatment for him in the months leading up to his passing.

Koster was initially referred to the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. He reportedly had difficulties in securing the services of a psychiatrist at the Trust and eventually sought private healthcare.

The star forward, who had also played rugby for Bristol, had two placements at Priory Group hospitals. The first was in Chelmsford from 10 May to 24 May, and later in Attleborough from 14 June.

At the start of his inquest, it was revealed that Koster was meant to be discharged from the hospital on 12 July.

However, the day before his scheduled discharge, he left the hospital and was discovered hanging in a wooded area near the facility by a member of the public.

Questions over UK mental healthcare system

During the preliminary hearing, Nick Koster’s sister, Terena Koster, had “systemic concerns” in his mental healthcare that she hopes the inquest will address.

“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,” she said.

Area coroner Samantha Goward has adjourned the case for a full inquest – scheduled for two days beginning October 1.

A ‘schoolboy sensation’

Nick Koster was born in Robertson, South Africa, on 22 February 1989. During his years at Bishops College he was considered a “schoolboy sensation”.

The loose forward represented South Africa at under-18 level, and at the age of 19, represented Western Province in the Currie Cup.

Koster featured for the Stormers from 2009 – 2012, before signing for English Premiership side Bath.

He moved to Bristol Bears the following year where he spent the majority of his professional career.

Tributes poured in following Nick Koster’s death. Former Bath Director of Rugby Gary Gold called him “one of the best schoolboy rugby players.”

After retiring from professional rugby in 2018, Nick Koster started his studies towards a MSt in Social Innovation at Cambridge University.

At Cambridge he captained their rugby team in the famous annual Varsity match against Oxford.