Scotland Rugby World Cup: Darcy Graham on visits to hyperbaric chamber and hunting down Stuart Hogg's record
The winger suffered a tear to a thigh muscle for the second time in his career and was concerned he might miss the start of the tournament in France. Happily for Scotland, he is fully recovered and will take his place on the right wing in Sunday’s Pool B match against South Africa in Marseille.
Hyperbaric therapy involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurised environment and is a well-established treatment for decompression sickness. But it is also used for more general healing and Graham thinks it helped. He was joined in the chamber by his Edinburgh and Scotland team-mate Luke Crosbie who suffered a bang to his ribs in training.
“We never really knew what we were letting ourselves in for. We just went in, no headphones and virtually had to just stare at one another for 90 minutes,” explained Graham of his first session.
"The chamber was at a private clinic in Edinburgh, it's around eight feet long and you put an oxygen mask on, you are then breathing in 100 per cent oxygen. They then drop the pressure and it helps the healing process. You just sit there and breathe it in, it's a bit different and I don't know what effect it had but it's done its job and I'm here now and available to play so I'll take it.
"By the second time we went in, we brought our phones and headset in with us and just watched a movie. There were five or six sessions in total and we had to do it every day. It's a new thing but Gregor [Townsend] has it in his head that it has worked so there will be a few boys being sent there now!
“There was a wee doubt in my head, when the injury happened I was just running and I felt it go. I knew there and then what I had done. When I suffered the same injury a few years ago it was that four to six week recovery period so I was stressed about the tear.”
Graham’s return is good news for Scotland because the winger has been in outstanding form in the build-up to the World Cup. He scored two tries against Italy and one against France in warm-up games and now has 19 in 35 Test matches. That puts him in seventh place on the all-time list for Scotland try-scorers, just behind Duhan van der Merwe who will play on the left wing against South Africa. The recently-retired Stuart Hogg leads with 27 tries but van der Merwe has got himself up to joint-fifth with Tommy Seymour after scoring three in his last two matches to take his tally to 20.
“Obviously Hoggy’s got [the record] and me and Duhan are hunting him down,” said Graham. “We’re both pretty confident we're going to break it, it's just about who's going to do it first. We're having a wee competition between ourselves. I’ve played with Duhan for a while now and when he scores I'm chuffed to bits for him but we're hunting the record down.”
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