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Graham “Basher” Downes, a widely beloved rugby player and businessman in San Diego, died Sunday, killed after a party he held at his San Diego home.


Downes was an accomplished rugby player with Natal in South Africa before moving to the USA in the 1980s. He joined the OMBAC rugby club, and was a star prop for them, earning his nickname Basher. Downes started for the USA at prop in their 23-16 victory over Hong Kong in 1992.

After his rugby career slowed, Downes became perhaps the preeminent architect in San Diego. He was heavily credited with the revitalization of the Gaslamp District, East Village and Barrio Logan areas in San Diego.

“No one wanted to touch those areas, and he rebuilt them,” said friend and teammate Jon Hinkin. “His death is unbelievably tragic. He was hugely respected not only in San Diego but around the world, as a rugby player and a businessman.”

Downes often held open house parties at his offices in downtown San Diego, and on many an occasion the party moved to his home. This was the case this past weekend. At the end of the party, some time after all the guests had left, there appears to have been an argument. A neighbor called police, and when the police arrived, they found Downes gravely injured, and Higinio Soriano Salgado, 31, next to Basher on the street.

Salgado was arrested and booked on attempted murder charges.

A celebration of life for Graham Downes will be held this Saturday at OMBAC’s home field, the Little Q, 9449 Friars Road, in San Diego, with two OMBAC games and remembrances of Downes beginning 1pm.