Adam Woolliscroft

Adventures, Races, Kit and Life

You always think that it will happen to someone else… The story of the broken neck.

It had been a slow game of rugby, especially for the backs, as the ball had hardly moved out along the line and the heavy forwards had battled on in near stalemate… I think I only touched the ball twice in 75 minutes! With just 5 minutes left on the clock, Kowloon Rugby Club were leading Hong Kong Football Club “Select”, by five hard earned points.

Adam HK RugbyAnother clumsy knock-on and it was our scrum, comfortably inside their half. A grunt and a shove from the pack and suddenly the ball shot through the hands of the backs like a bullet and found its way, at speed, to me on the wing. It was a perfect pass (the first of the season !), pinpoint accurate and torpedoing just in front of me. As I built up to full pace I ran onto the ball, it glided into my hands and was securely tucked under my trusty right arm. I accelerated again, expecting contact!

Like a gazelle I headed for the corner but then at the last second, as I approached the first of the defenders, I sharply cut back in , wrong footing them, brushing past several loose tackles and driving on at pace. A natural channel opened up between the opposition’s wrong-footed backs and forwards who were still recovering from the scrum and guided me perfectly, huffing, puffing and charging at full pace, straight towards the opposition’s posts.

IMGP0227As 90 kg of adrenaline-fueled winger, I bolted forwards, at full speed, already sensing an opportunity to score a try right under the posts and anticipating the glory of winning the game for the team. Hurray !  Unfortunately, one huge, ugly 20 stone prop stood in my path, presenting a significantly large barrier! I was going too fast and admittedly I was probably not skilled enough to attempt a delicate sidestep. However a powerful shoulder barge into his midriff, followed by a ballet-like pivot, as he absorbed  the momentum, would mean that I should be able to stretch to my full height and dive forward, popping the ball over the line right under the posts. And glory! Or that’s how I planned it anyway.

Instead I had a tiny moment of bad luck!


A millisecond before impact, with my body already near to horizontal, a team mate linked on to me, planning to drive me forwards, through or possibly over the prop and hence to the line.  He obviously hadn’t read my mind and didn’t know about the pivoting plan. Unfortunately this altered my body angle by just a few inches, at just the wrong moment, causing the full force of the impact to shift from my shoulder, 3 inches away, to the top of my head.

Bang! There was an almighty, thunderous crack! I simultaneously heard it both internally and externally as it left my head ringing and I crumpled to the ground underneath a pile of six or seven players.

As the players moved away, following the final few minutes of the game, I lay on my back, slightly dazed, staring up at the stars above. I was still and even peaceful, but I had a horrific sense of dread in my stomach. It had been the scariest noise I had ever heard. The noise of bone breaking, and in the wrong place. A noise I associated with potentially horrific consequences. I knew what the almighty crack could mean and suddenly one of the worst fears for any very active sportsman may have become a reality, a nightmare that could mean being confined to a wheelchair for the rest of my life. I felt nauseous !

I lay there, in a dazed state, for what felt like hours, afraid to try to move, in case it confirmed my worse fears.

Eventually I needed to do something so I held my breadth and “told” my right fingers to move. They did. I wiggled them a little more to be sure and breathed an initial sigh of relief. Next, another breadth and I tried to raise my right arm, it moved up as commanded and I released another sigh of relief.  I repeated the process with my left arm and then my legs. Everything seemed to work I was going to be okay! Thank Goodness ! However, it was all a little trickier than that!

In the hospital, I was x-rayed, doctors had a quiet word with my girlfriend, who swore and moments later my rugby shirt was carefully cut off and I was securely strapped to the bed I lay on. Apart from the surgeon’s table, I didn’t leave that bed again for 10 days. It was a really traumatic 10 days and that was just the first visit !



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This entry was posted on April 15, 2013 by in Life and tagged , , , , .
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