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Ruck Star Rugby

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Supporting a great man with a great vision

Posted by Neil Boote on

If you take part in contact or extreme sport it is only human to worry about getting injured. I am one of the lucky ones. Lucky to have ski-ed, to have played Rugby for decades, to have jumped from cliffs, from trees, from rooftops, even the second floor of a Spanish shopping Centre. All adrenaline surging, life affirming, character building stuff.

I forget so much these days. Memories are definitely starting to fade. But this stuff, the fearful, demanding, physically outside-the-comfort-zone stuff, I remember. It is the mundane we forget not the magnificent. I am lucky to have come through it all in one piece. Sure I've suffered an injury or two. Six weeks ago I underwent shoulder surgery and it looks like I have a few months yet of disturbed nights' sleep, tedious physio and occasional pain. 13 years ago I had an ACL reconstruction, miraculously a section of hamstring used to replace a ruptured knee ligament whose absence often brought me crashing to the floor, having tripped over a kerb, or slipped on a wet bathroom floor, the knee buckled, the pain vomit-inducing. But today, that knee is as strong as it ever was.

Oh and there was the time I found myself skiing alone on the last run, of the last day, of a trip that had pushed me to my quad-sapping limits. What a fantastic week it was. Until that last run up on the unforgiving glacier, when I misjudged a steep, narrow run, went flying head first and dislocated a shoulder that remained dislocated for an agonising hour until I was found by a panicked Bulgarian octogenarian, shipped down the mountain and put back in place but only after my chums had been sent off to the pharmacy to procure the valium required to knock me out. But that, that was lucky.

So yes I have been very fortunate. Fortunate to have grabbed the chance to make my final and inevitable move towards the front row from the back where it all began. At almost 50 years of age I decided it would be a good idea to have a go at hooking. Yes I questioned my own judgement, and at times wondered what on earth was I doing, lining up against the vets of London Irish, Welsh, Harlequins Amateurs, Farnham, Esher et al. Sticking your head where the sun don't shine when your arms are wrapped round the back of your props has its risks. But I was lucky. Scrums went down, I got up. But not everyone is lucky.

My brother wasn't so lucky. Gareth, a very promising scrum half, had shoulder with a habit of popping out. Surgeries came and went, dislocation followed dislocation. Okay trampolining pissed in Great Yarmouth didn't help but I still remember now, with the sadness I felt back then, visiting Gareth at Stoke Mandeville after another major surgery, but this time we knew and he knew his Rugby days were over. 

Matt Hampson wasn't lucky. Matt was really bloody unlucky. When a scrum went down Matt suffered catastrophic spinal injuries. His life changed forever. I could have been Matt. Matt could've been me. I was lucky, Matt was unlucky. Oh and he was a brilliant young Rugby player which I have to be honest, I never was. Matt's injury and the devastation it caused is not a unique story. Many, many people, active, optimistic, athletic, young people at the beginning of life's journey, get unlucky and face the prospect of lives unable to do so much that they took for granted, and loved to do.

What Matt did next, and continues to do is remarkable though. Inspiring. An exemplar of humankind at its most marvellous. He decided to turn his tragedy into the motivation for a life of helping others facing similar circumstances. To provide them with the financial, physical, spiritual and motivational support required to help them live busy, fulfilling and joyful lives as Matt has done.

I support the Matt Hampson Foundation and specifically Matt's dream of a Get Busy Living Centre because I know all too well that every one of us who loves to test ourselves physically could get unlucky too. We are all in it together and we should all stick together the lucky and the unlucky. That's how society works best.

  • Matt
  • hampson
  • get busy living
  • foundation
  • ruck star rugby

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