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Wales vs England 1999

Greg Holmes great hit on Francois Louw

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Thom Evans getting on with life after premature retirement

In February last year, Scotland wing Thom Evans suffered a horrific injury that left him paralysed temporarily, unable to ever play rugby again. While it’s meant a massive change in his life, the 25 year old is looking ahead to a bright future.

The injury took place during the classic Six Nations game between Wales and Scotland at the Millennium Stadium that ended with a last gasp try for Wales, shattering the hearts of all Scottish fans in many cases, neutrals too.

For Thom though, what happened on that day was far more serious. He sustained a severe neck injury that led to him officially announcing his retirement from rugby in November. He’s since spoken about the incident, stating that it felt as though someone was stabbing him in the back, turning the knife, time and time again.

Waves of pain followed after the slipped vertebra from his collision left him with no sensation in his body. "It was like I was in a dream. I knew I was paralysed and then the fear started to set in. I knew immediately I was in real trouble," he said.

"I thought I would die right there on the grass wearing my Scotland shirt, or at least be spending the rest of my life in a wheelchair. For three minutes I lay on the turf as scared as I ever will be in my life."

Shortly after, feeling returned and Thom felt a surging pain that had him pleading with the paramedics on the scene. James Robson, the Scotland and British & Irish Lions team doctor, said that in over 20 years of international sport, that was the worst on-field incident he had to deal with.

When injuries like that occur, how they are treated over the next few minutes can be vital. Any incorrect movement in the wrong direction could lead to serious paralysis.

Two intense operations followed.

"The surgeon pointed to my neck where he was going to make the first incision and explained my back was so badly damaged that they had to cut me from the front where my vocal cords were. They would hang them to one side and move my spine back into place through the front of my body," he explained.

The second op was to strengthen his neck, where metal rods were inserted to fuse part of his spine. Both were successful procedures and while Evans had retained hope of getting fit and playing again, it was soon advised that the wise choice was to pursue something else.

"My walk back home from the hospital when I got that news was one of the longest, most depressing walks I have ever made," he said.

He now has other goals as a career in athletics, golf, and even a return to his on stage days, could follow. While retirement from rugby was a tough pill to swallow, he appreciates that things could have turned out a whole lot worse for him on that fateful day. We wish him all the best.

Time: 04:50
Credit: Thanks to Total Rugby



  • Takes a lot to say all that after that one incident has ruined your whole career hopes and dreams! Especially when you have to watch your brother playing week in week out! But it is the best game in the world for sure which helps!!

    By Anonymous SpencaH, at January 06, 2011 12:24 pm  

  • I wish him all the best. It was a sad way to end a promising career but at least he has a healthy life to look forward to living.

    By Blogger Individual Clone, at January 06, 2011 12:35 pm  

  • fair play to him for his positive attitude.i'm sure he'll succeed in whatever career he chooses to pursue

    By Anonymous Leeners93, at January 06, 2011 1:11 pm  

  • Was he raised in Scotland? Doesn't sound like it...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 06, 2011 1:37 pm  

  • Truly humbling.

    By Anonymous Von, at January 06, 2011 1:38 pm  

  • Says he was raised in Portugal in the vid. How'd he get that accent though? Are his parents not Scottish? Or does he qualify for Scotland some other way?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 06, 2011 1:40 pm  

  • i remember watching this game and the next day trying to find out what happend to him, but nothing was listed. Im glad he got back on his feet, literally because i know a lad in my own club who has been paralysed from the neck down through Rugby. Always great to see someone recover from this sort of injury. Wish him all the best

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 06, 2011 1:41 pm  

  • Seems like a good guy. Does anyone else see a dan carter resemblance?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 06, 2011 1:43 pm  

  • No. i c a max evans resemblence thou

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 06, 2011 1:48 pm  

  • good luck to him for the rest. he's a brave boy and deserves all the respect. cheers from france

    By Blogger Oli, at January 06, 2011 2:01 pm  

  • He went to school in England, played sport for Eng at age group level (golf and athletics) and has a Scottish grandfather.

    Not all Scots sound like Sean Connery though.

    By Anonymous Greiffel, at January 06, 2011 2:02 pm  

  • Right. Most Scots do sound Scottish though haha! Apparently he was born in Zimbabwe as well. Quite an interesting character.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 06, 2011 3:07 pm  

  • Shame it couldn't have been Max who got injured.. .....

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 06, 2011 3:16 pm  

  • he was better than Max.

    By Anonymous hasif, at January 06, 2011 3:39 pm  

  • some man, positive attitude is unreal, does look like dan carter,some bad comments out there saying it would have been better if max was injured instead! bad men! these people probably never played any sort of sport whatsoever!

    By Anonymous munsterhurler, at January 06, 2011 3:47 pm  

  • Cant believe someone has said they wish it was max that got injured...dont wish an injury like that on anyone even if its in the place of someone else. But he seems to be a top lad with a fantastic attitude. Always amazes me how people come back from things like that, knowing that he shouldve had at least another 5 years as a professional in a sport he loves, but having it snatched away. All the best to him

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 06, 2011 4:55 pm  

  • Nice vid. Seems a good dude.

    Now, how to injure Richie McCaw for the year??!?!?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 06, 2011 5:04 pm  

  • Nice guy. Terrific injury and i'm happy to see him recover like this.
    Wish him the best, even if he sure has realised the best has already happened: he can walk, run, move and do whatever he wants to, which is a just a miracle after this. Again i wish him the best.

    And to finish:
    "It still is the best game in the world." Says it all.

    By Anonymous Maximus, at January 06, 2011 6:48 pm  

  • "...he's a brave boy and deserves all the respect."

    Cheers from brasil.

    By Blogger Hugo, at January 06, 2011 10:21 pm  

  • Very sad story. Nobody deserves these things. Especially a talented young man...

    By Anonymous Lorenzo, at January 06, 2011 10:29 pm  

  • Nice rhomboid muscles.

    By Anonymous Seymour, at January 06, 2011 11:31 pm  

  • I know it's somewhat of a stupid question to ask, but is there a specific reason as to why he can't play?

    Typically, broken bones will regain their strength, and his muscles are obviously coming back around, but is nerve damage totally different? Once damaged, are they even more susceptible to injury?

    And has anyone ever heard of someone coming back from serious spinal injuries in other sports back to where they once were?

    By Anonymous fred, at January 06, 2011 11:47 pm  

  • fred
    with spinal fusion the risk in contact sport in his case would just be too high. He'd be walking a fine line. It's one of those tough calls where you just have to look at it and accept that the risks are just much higher than the rewards

    By Anonymous rehanb, at January 07, 2011 12:08 am  

  • Whatever he is, he is not an actor haha.

    Has a rather limited amount of charisma to put it mildly.

    Glad he is doing well though - stick to sport.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 07, 2011 2:17 am  

  • I couldn't care what nation he represented or what sport he played. Thank goodness he made the recovery he did. I'll be cheering for him vicariously through his brother lol. Go Scotland!

    By Anonymous Chris J, at January 07, 2011 6:09 am  

  • ....ok, maybe this is just plain silly...but, what if he played with a neck brace of some sort...maybe designed for sport....he wouldnt have the head movement or vision he once had, so maybe it would just be depressing for him...

    idk....im not asking him to risk his health, i was merely wondering...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 10, 2011 3:57 pm  

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