'One tackle from being left paralysed'
May 12, 2013
Wales' Ifan Evans bursts past New Zealand's Will Price months before his career ended abruptly © Getty Images
Ifan Evans has revealed that an accident while training not only ended his career but left him close to being paralysed from the neck down.
Speaking to Wales Online, Evans, who at the time was within two tries of the record for the most Sevens tries for Wales in World Series competition, said he felt something was not right during a routine training drill at Cardiff.
"At the time I wasn't in any pain but the next morning I woke up and my foot was numb," he said. The club physio immediately withdrew him from that day's Welsh Premiership match and sent him to see a specialist who disgnosed a serious spinal injury.
"The doctor said I was incredibly lucky that the problem was spotted on the training field and not during a game. I was basically told that one hit to a certain part of my neck would have permanently paralysed me from the neck down. Playing for Cardiff that night could have put me in a wheelchair for the rest of my life.
"When someone tells you that you have a career-ending injury it is devastating but when they put it like that it makes walking away from rugby a pretty easy decision."
As Wales reached their first World Sevens Series final in March, Evans was preparing to undergo surgery to have a decompression case fitted in his neck. The Welsh players sang the national anthem at the Hong Kong Stadium with "Ifan" written on their wrists.
"That was tough, I didn't know they were going to do that so it took me by surprise," he said. "I had tears in my eyes. That gesture meant everything to me."
Evans faces a wait to see what course his injury takes. The operation prevented it deteriorating further but only time will tell if the nerve damage will repair.
"It's basically left me in a permanent state of pins and needles, in my hands, my legs and feet. It's not painful but it is constant which is extremely annoying and weird. I can't drive, I can't go to the gym, run, ride a bike. For someone who exercised every day, to go from that to nothing at all just like that is killing me.
"The doctors have warned that it could be three to six months before I start feeling myself, after that I'll start thinking about what I want to do with my life."
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