After Getting Tackled On The Rugby Pitch, He Becomes Paralyzed In Half Of His Body. Doctors Say There’s No Chance He’ll Walk Again

At a rugby game two years ago, Zac French had gotten tossed into the air and thrown into the field. His coach called the emergency response team, where French was given harrowing news.

In May 2015, Zac French was playing a rugby game for Cheltenham Phoenix against Bath Romans in a regional cup final. The 23-year-old rugby player got tackled by one of the opposing players during the game.

French ended up being tossed into the air and landed on the field, directly on his neck.

Everyone immediately rushed to call for the emergency response team. French was immediately sent on his way to Southmead Hospital in Bristol. On the way there, French reported losing feeling in one of his arms and legs.

But just as French arrived at Southmead Hospital, the doctors there sent him to a second, larger hospital; Gloucestershire Royal Hospital.

By the time French made it there, doctors were able to diagnose the extent of his injuries.

After having landed on his neck, French had damaged many of the nerves in his body. He was paralyzed on one entire half of his body, and on top of that, doctors forbid him from moving for over two months, in hopes that it would encourage more of his body to heal. For those two months, French was only able to move his toes and arms as doctors waited to see how he would recover.

Unfortunately, the recovery took even longer than anticipated.

Not only were doctors having to wait on French’s body to heal, but they also realized the injury had damaged so many nerves in his body that it had compromised his ability to read and write.

Over time, with the help of his mom, French slowly regained his mental capacities.

And although the doctors warned him he might never walk again, French chose to ignore their diagnoses. He was determined not just to walk again, but to play another game of rugby.

“There were a lot of dark days but I was very lucky that my family were there to lean on,” French recalled. “They would tell me that it would be ok. That was more to do with walking again, not necessarily about playing rugby again.”

But for French, this wasn’t good enough. “[T]he end game was always playing rugby again.”

For the next two years, French attended rehab and physical therapy sessions to regain the use of the muscles in his body. And finally, this past weekend, French was able to step back on the rugby field again, this time, as a player.

His entire family was worried that he’d get hurt again, but French was determined.

“I was a bit hesitant making the first couple tackles but I was happy once I got the ball in my hands and started running,” he said afterward. “It was pretty good just to be back out again on the pitch.”


SWNSThe best part of the game? French was able to score a goal. It was “as if [he’d] never left.”

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