A Co Down man left paralysed after breaking his neck in a school rugby match has said the “key element” of contact should not be removed from the sport.
David Ross, from Moira, spoke out after 70 doctors and health professionals yesterday urged schools in the UK and Ireland to ban tackling. David was just 18 when he suffered a broken neck and ended up in a wheelchair after a number of players fell on top of him during a ruck.
But he does not blame the sport that he loves for his injuries, instead attributing them to a “freak accident”. The 21-year-old now plays wheelchair rugby for Ireland but still misses the game.
“It was a freak accident,” he said. “These accidents can happen doing anything, and I have met a lot of people who have broken their necks doing a lot of different things.
“Rugby has such a small margin of this type of accident, to be honest, so I can’t blame rugby for the accident.
“I’ve no resentment at all towards the sport. I was just on the ground and the tackle happened beside me. Two guys fell down on top of me and my neck bent a way that it shouldn’t have.”
David also outlined why he was not supporting the call for tackling to be banned from rugby played in schools.
“It’s something I don’t agree with,” he said.
“I think that it would just change the sport. Rugby is a contact sport, and it’s kind of a key element of the sport, so to take it out would change the sport for me.
“It’s a great sport and people who go into it know it’s a contact sport and they know what they are going in for.
“Injuries are part of all sports, and I think changing it is something that shouldn’t be done.”
David told the Belfast Telegraph that despite his injury, he still loved the sport, which he continues to play in his wheelchair and which takes him across the British Isles at least once a month for matches.
“It’s a different sport from rugby, but it fills the gap,” he said. “But I will always miss playing rugby.”