Thom Evans was millimetre from death or paralysis after injury

SCOTTISH rugby internationalist Max Evans has said his brother Thom – who was seriously injured in a match against Wales – should not play the sport again, even if he makes a full recovery.

• How Evans came to grief on the field at the Millennium Stadium

Max, a fellow internationalist who played in the Six Nations championship match at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, in which his brother was stretchered off with a spinal injury, believes it is too dangerous for Thom to return to the pitch.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The player spoke as Scotland team doctor James Robson revealed that Thom's vertebra was knocked so badly out of alignment that he was just one millimetre from paralysis or even death.

After 12 days in hospital and two operations, Thom, 24, has returned to Glasgow under the care of the Glasgow Warriors medical team, who are working alongside their colleagues at Scottish Rugby and specialists within the NHS.

When asked about Thom's future, Max, 26, said: "Put it this way – it will be a while before it is even considered. That is all I can say. If I was saying, I wouldn't like him to play, but it is up to him.

"That is my thought right now, just because of what he has been through. I know what he is capable on a rugby pitch. I just know the ins and outs of what has been said. I will stick to what I said."

There has been rising concern about the rate of injury in the modern game. Last month, the Rugby Football Union released figures which showed the likelihood of players picking up injuries had risen by 20 per cent on the previous season. The report found that 769 injuries were recorded by Guinness Premiership clubs in England last year, an average of two per club per game, and the first increase since 2002.

THE rugby director at Premier Rugby has urged the International Rugby Board to lobby other nations to conduct similar audits to discover the true scale of rugby injuries across the world.

Previous studies have found that 20 per cent of all rugby injuries result in concussions. A British study, though dated, showed that in 1985-95, of the 443 spinal injuries reported, 18 per cent occurred through rugby.

In a tackle by a Welsh player, a lower vertebra in Thom's neck was pushed 50 per cent out of alignment, and had the Scotland team doctor and his team not taken considerable care moving him, the bone could have been pushed further, cutting the spinal cord, as Dr Robson said, "like a guillotine".

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Describing the injury as the most serious he had seen in his long career, Dr Robson said: "We just did not have any leeway. It is hard to say if it was a millimetre or not. We think there was no room for error, given any additional movement could have compromised his cord – and we were lucky we didn't. Or it might be we were just well trained."

Max said he was not initially aware of the seriousness of the injury to his brother – who was formerly in boyband Twen2y 4 Se7en. Thom was immediately admitted to the University Hospital Wales (UHW). Sashin Ahuja, a consultant working in the field of spinal surgery for seven years, commended the high standard of care on the pitch.

He said: "I was watching the game and could see the medical care provided on the pitch was excellent. Thom was admitted with a very unstable injury to his neck. He was scanned and operated on within hours.

"The first operation was critical to protect the spinal cord," said Mr Ahuja. "This was performed on the Saturday night and was successful, with Thom showing immediate signs of recovery."

Due to the severity of the injuries to Thom's neck, a second operation was necessary to maintain this stability. Mr Ahuja said: "After the second operation, Thom now feels that he can begin his recovery in earnest. He will be in a collar for at least six weeks to allow the soft tissue to heal, and his care has been transferred to a hospital in Glasgow for outpatient and rehabilitation treatment."

THOM, who flew to Glasgow on Thursday, praised the staff at UHW, as well as those on duty at the Millennium Stadium on the day of the match. In a statement issued yesterday, he said: "The care I received in Cardiff was outstanding, and I owe a great debt of gratitude to my main surgeon, Sashin Ahuja, and neurosurgeon John Martin, who was present during my first operation.

"I cannot thank enough the Scotland team doctor, James Robson, physiotherapist Lisa Casey and WRU doctor Mike Fardy for their extreme professionalism whilst on the Millennium Stadium pitch.

"I have been amazed and moved by the many, many messages of support from well-wishers inside and outside the rugby world, who have taken the time to send me and my family their best wishes."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Among the many fans wishing Thom a speedy recovery is Chris Evans, the BBC DJ and his second cousin, who was at the Cardiff game and who has posted regular updates on the player's condition on Twitter.