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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Dan Lydiate comeback after breaking his neck

Two years after suffering a career-threatening injury, Newport-Gwent Dragons flanker Dan Lydiate made a remarkable comeback. This is the story of how he not only made it back into professional rugby, but earned his first cap for his country.

Twenty one year old Lydiate broke his neck when playing a Heineken Cup group match against Perpignan two years ago, leaving him with temporary paralysis and requiring surgery.

"I wasn’t knocked unconscious or anything like that," he says. "I remember exactly how it happened and laying there thinking ‘it is not good.’ It was a pretty scary time.

"When it happens, you lose the feeling in your arms and legs. Anybody would be scared. The medical people were also scared to move me at first, but they took all the necessary precautions and I couldn’t fault them."

The collision left him with a crushed disc, broken vertebra, and torn ligaments in his neck. He underwent surgery in November 2007, not knowing what the future held.

"I didn’t know if I would walk or whatever, but it was established I was going to be fine," he said. "The next question was whether I would be able to play again. Once I had the operation, they said there was no reason why I couldn’t. You just start building from there."

He was back walking again within three weeks, but a career in the physically bruising world of rugby looked likely to be improbable. He sat out of the game, doing a bit of work on the family farm, and wondering if he’d ever make it back after such an ordeal.

Watching Wales win the Grand Slam in 2008 added to the feeling of disappointment he had to deal with while unable to play. "It was terribly frustrating," said Lydiate. "I love my rugby and was chuffed that Wales had won the Grand Slam. But I found it too difficult to watch at times.

"I suppose they were the darkest days, although through it all, I never let go of the possibility of getting back and maybe, one day, playing at that level."

Exactly two years on from the fateful night, he made his debut against Argentina off the bench at the Millennium Stadium. It was the culmination of a dream that he'd worked hard for after the horrific injury that almost changed his life forever.

"When things like that happen, you are just happy to walk again," he said. "Then, once you start training, you get the bug again and start wondering 'what if?'."

He only got ten minutes to play against Argentina, but loved every moment of it.

"I haven’t stopped smiling," he said, "I kept my cap on as long as I could in the evening function, it was a huge honour for me.

"My family were all down at the game and my mam didn’t stop crying all day, she still had tears in her eyes on Sunday," he said after his debut.

Inspirational stuff.

Time: 03:26



  • Great story. Congrats to the young man.

    By Anonymous Dave, at December 27, 2009 5:19 pm  

  • it was really something to be afraid of, not being able to feel your legs or your arms is quite something, and it can really leave you with a constant fear, just a brave kid, and a very inspirational comeback. Greeting from chile.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at December 27, 2009 6:08 pm  

  • Great guy and a promising talent. I can see him being wales starting no7 by the world cup.

    By Anonymous WelshOsprey, at December 27, 2009 6:35 pm  

  • That would be the scariest thing ever - to hear your own neck snap and start losing feeling in your arms and legs.

    Massive respect to the guy.

    By Anonymous Mike, at December 27, 2009 7:47 pm  

  • good on that kid brave brave young man. gives people who have had serious injeries confidence, personally i would find it difficult to play again take my hat of to him great lad :)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at December 27, 2009 8:29 pm  

  • "I heard my neck snap and though oh christ, this isnt good". Only a rugby player could come out with that lol

    By Blogger gavin heddle, at December 27, 2009 10:59 pm  

  • errr it scares me hearing stories like this... fair play to the young man im very happy he pulled through it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at December 28, 2009 1:26 am  

  • makes you worry sometimes.....

    gotta laugh though, Dan Lydiate....i wonder what rhymes they came up with at school for him!

    great example of getting back on the horse though, good on him!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at December 28, 2009 2:38 am  

  • hes actually played some of his best rugby AFTER breaking his neck
    seems like a top bloke
    best of luck to the fella

    By Anonymous owainglyndwr, at December 28, 2009 4:14 am  

  • Scary stuff indeed. Much respect to him though for coming back from that. I'll be looking out for him in the Six Nations

    By Anonymous FrankyH, at December 28, 2009 10:24 am  

  • I've had a few stingers in my time, and they're bad enough. For starters, if I started to lose feeling, I'd probably shit myself...

    By Anonymous OK...., at December 28, 2009 1:23 pm  

  • fair play to the lad! what spirit, surely he must of been pretrified the first contact session after breaking his neck!

    and i think we need to give a big hand to the doctors that helped him!

    By Anonymous willy g, at December 28, 2009 1:56 pm  

  • There was a guy down our club (local club) who broke his neck after going into contact.

    He was in a wheel chair for nearly a year then eventually managed to walk and develop etc etc....

    he doesnt play anymore, i think because he has a couple young kids he just thinks he owes it to them....but is there most training sessions acting as a sort of in session coach...kinda joins in on everything and teaches but then stops when it comes to contact.....great guy and was a great player.

    Always good to hear of people pulling through and i suppose this youngster with his talent and that being his job, as such its great to hear him getting back into it!!!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at December 28, 2009 6:04 pm  

  • Inspirational

    By Anonymous Andy, at December 29, 2009 12:03 pm  

  • Maybe it's an openside thing - Lydiate, Burger...?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at December 29, 2009 1:58 pm  

  • Merry Christmas and a happy new year to everyone!! Love is all around. Clearly.

    Well done to this fella, brave of him to go near a rugby pitch let alone play again. inspirational.

    Why are you bothering to reply to Bokke? he's obviously just a kid trying to wind people up.

    By Anonymous Santa, at December 29, 2009 3:40 pm  

  • It's pretty pathetic that one of the best stories I've ever seen on this site has degenerated into typical SH-NH bashing, instigated by some needledicked 12 year old on mummy's computer.

    Merry Xmas all (especially Dan Lydiate)

    By Anonymous Prop#3, at December 29, 2009 6:10 pm  

  • Prop#3 Well said!!! RD one of the best stories i have seen on here thank you from a very happy rugby supporter.... great work all year RD long may it continue. Defo my favourite website. Happy New year all.. lol quick dig....

    Bokke try playing rugby then you might grow a pair!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at December 29, 2009 7:16 pm  

  • Im not trying to start another war on here....apparently i missed out on 'Bokke' comments...i can only imagine...

    But its crazy this video, i watched it over an over (the part where i imagine the incident occured) and really i cant see anything, i mean no disrespect i only mean its mad how there can be incidents like the spear tackle on mccaw by tuqiri (spelling?) and mccaw not breaking anything and then something which honestly doesnt look high impact causes such a horrific injury!

    Good on the guy for pulling through!

    still eye opening stuff!

    By Anonymous No.7, at December 30, 2009 1:17 am  

  • Burger broke his neck against Scotland in 2006 and carried on playing for the next 20 minutes. He then took a few weeks off after and was back in time for the World Cup. Congratulations to this relatively unknown kid, but Burger's stop is far more inspirational. Burger: The REAL Iron Man.

    By Anonymous I Bleed Blue (Bulls), at December 30, 2009 5:14 pm  

  • ..........a relation to bokke i presume....what a twat really....

    'yeh this kid is good, but fuck it, us boks always have to have one over everyone else, burger is way better...'

    that is all that was clear from your statement!!!

    By Anonymous I'll make you bleed blue, at December 30, 2009 5:34 pm  

  • Great stuff, young man! Walk with pride.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at December 30, 2009 9:26 pm  

  • I Bleed Blue (Bulls) > Wrong as usual.

    If anything you should be using young Jamie Roberts as an example who after a clash with Mortlock played on with a fractured skull. Mortlock went off instantly with concussion.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at December 30, 2009 9:39 pm  

  • Good on ya mate!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 01, 2010 6:39 am  

  • Great to see Dan come out the other side of accident. At least its a happy ending as opposed to the other lads who've been through similar incidents. Makes me think of Stuart Mangan and other lads.


    By Blogger Steve, at January 01, 2010 5:58 pm  

  • First and foremost, rugby is a contact sport, these things are bound to happen and no one is to blame. If you're not tough enough, you're gonna get hurt, that's just a fact. The human body can only take so much and too much impact on a certain point will lead to disaster, that's just a fact of life. Seeing what happened here is no surprise at all, really. One would image a stronger man like BOD would have been able to absorb the pressure and not come out with an injury, but then, he's a tough Irishman, like myself, I suppose.

    By Anonymous Irl-Brad*, at January 01, 2010 11:01 pm  

  • 'Irl-Brad*'.......not irish....just trying to stir trouble

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 02, 2010 3:05 pm  

  • Tough Irish men?

    Cast your mind back to the Lions tour, how many Irish 'boys' were injured before and during the tour?

    It eventually a dazed and confused ROG that cost the Lions the entire series.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 03, 2010 12:02 am  

  • soo glad he's back
    still cant hear anything about his injury - hes really brave

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 03, 2010 6:49 pm  

  • That is just inspirational stuff ! especially to watch him put in the tackles ! i believe that a lot of people, after breaking their neck from tackling someone(well having the guys fall on top of u but it was instigated from tackling ie if he hadnt tackled he wouldnt have broken his neck) to get back up and be able to put the fear of it possibly happening again to rest and going out and mullering people in the tackle is absolutely phenomenal !! fair play to him an inspiration to all !!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at February 16, 2010 9:23 pm  

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