Darwin tells of injury terror
Wallabies prop Ben Darwin has revealed how he lost the feeling from his neck down after being buried under a scrum collapse during Australia's 22-10 Rugby World Cup win over New Zealand in Sydney on Saturday night.
Darwin was stretchered off the field and has been ruled out of next weekend's Rugby World Cup final after suffering a prolapsed disc in his neck during the scrum collapse.
And today he paid tribute to his All Blacks opponent Kees Meeuws for saving him from possible further injury.
"I heard a crack and immediately called out 'neck, neck, neck' and to his credit Kees Meeuws stopped pushing which was fortunate because I lost feeling in my body and he could have really crashed me into the ground," he said in a statement issued by the Wallabies camp.
"When I was on the ground I had no feeling from my neck down for about two minutes. It was terrifying, but the medical staff did a great job of getting me into the right position and then I felt pins and needles in my arms and
legs, which was a great relief.
"I asked if they could make sure my wife knew I was OK as that was hugely important to me.
"In the ambulance on the way to hospital the staff were nice enough to put the game on the radio so I could hear what was going on. Great to see the boys finish the match off.
"I'll be in hospital for a couple of days at least while they monitor my condition but the doctors are happy with my progress so far. I desperately want to be able to sit with the team on the bench and cheer the boys on in
Darwin has been cleared of any serious neck injury but officials are refusing to speculate on what sort of impact the injury will have on his long-term playing future.
Australian team doctor Martin Rafferty said the prolapsed disc was touching the spinal cord.
"If it doesn't settle down of its own accord it will require surgery," Dr Rafferty said.
"At this stage our major concern is just making sure the acute injury is fine. After further investigation we will address the other issues but at this stage we need to let the dust settle."
Australian coach Eddie Jones said the Wallabies would miss Darwin in the final but added that the team was only concerned about his health.
"Obviously he's an important member of the side, but we're lucky we've got some very good replacements in Al Baxter and Matt Dunning," he said.
"Certainly it's a loss for the team but, as I said, we're more concerned about his health than anything at this stage."
Darwin counts his blessings
By Greg Growden
November 17, 2003
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Ben Darwin is carried off Telstra Stadium on Saturday night.
Picture: Getty Images
The World Cup is over for Australian prop Ben Darwin and he may never play again after he lost feeling in his arms and legs for two minutes during Saturday's semi-final win over New Zealand as a result of a neck injury.
The incident, in which Darwin found himself jammed with his chin pressed to his neck in a 48th-minute scrum, caused a prolapsed disc in his neck that sent his spinal cord into "temporary shock".
"I heard a crack and immediately called out 'neck, neck, neck' and to his credit Kees Meeuws stopped pushing which was fortunate because I lost feeling in my body and he could have really crashed me into the ground," Darwin said yesterday.
"When I was on the ground I had no feeling from my neck down for about two minutes. It was terrifying but the medical staff did a great job."
The match, won 22-10 by the underdog Wallabies, was halted for a number of minutes as medical staff carefully put Darwin into a neck brace before he was taken on a stretcher from the ground.
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Wallabies team doctor Martin Raftery said yesterday there was no permanent damage though Darwin would remain in hospital for several days and would need a neck brace for about six weeks. Raftery said the forward may require surgery to fuse the vertebrae and his playing future was in doubt.
"With any type of neck injury there's a chance he might not (play again) but at this stage we can't say," Raftery said. "We've only done investigations when his neck's immobilised and we haven't done any movement investigations. If it (the injury) doesn't settle down of its own accord it will require surgery."
Darwin's Australian teammates visited him in hospital yesterday, and were amused to hear that the forward had asked for the ambulance radio to be turned up on the way to hospital so he could listen to the game.
"He was in good spirits but obviously his health's his main concern at the moment," fellow prop and close mate Bill Young said.
"He's dislocated his neck . . . it's a strange one; the doctor told him he should buy a lottery ticket so obviously he's pretty lucky."
Wallabies coach Eddie Jones said it was unlikely Australia would call for a replacement prop to be added to the World Cup final squad with Al Baxter likely to be in the starting line-up and Matt Dunning coming on to the bench.
Other injury concerns, hooker Brendan Cannon (shoulder) and lock Nathan Sharpe (knee), have eased while exciting utility back Matt Giteau is set to train on his injured ankle today and is likely to return to the bench at the expense of Nathan Grey.
Jones was noticeably upset by Darwin's injury yesterday. "It was distressing for everyone watching the game," said Jones before the Wallabies headed back to their Coffs Harbour base.
Jones said yesterday the Wallabies were playing nowhere near their best.
"All I can say is that our performance next week will be better. That's what we are aiming for. We haven't seen the best of this side yet. We know firmly we can play better," Jones said yesterday.
"We played some reasonable football, in patches, which was good enough to win the game. We still didn't attack with the precision we wanted. And we want to continue getting better at the lineout and scrum, because the final is going to be more of a set-piece contest.[/b]
World Cup Wallaby Ben Darwin named Assistant Coach
April 08, 2005 - 11:40am
Story by: Other
Ben Darwin talks with Alistair Baxter
New Perth Assistant Coach, Ben Darwin with former Wallaby team-mate Al Baxter during the 2003 Rugby World Cup
Hot on the heels of recruiting Wallabies Nathan Sharpe and Brendan Cannon, coach John Mitchell now has a third Wallaby on board for WA's new Super 14 team, this time on the coaching staff.
Wallaby prop Ben Darwin has been appointed as Assistant Coach - Forwards. Darwin is currently the Head Coach of Sydney club Norths, and will remain there until the end of the Tooheys New Cup before relocating to Perth in October.
The appointment has a certain irony, given that Darwin and Mitchell were both plotting each other's downfalls during the 2003 Rugby World Cup.
It was in the RWC Semi Final in Sydney that the Wallabies put an end to Mitchell's dream of winning a Rugby World Cup with the All Blacks. In the same match, Darwin's Test career was brought to an end when he suffered a neck injury.
Mitchell said Darwin's experience and understanding of set piece play made him a valuable resource.
"Ben's expertise and his understanding of the contemporary game will be invaluable for the new WA Super 14 team," John Mitchell said.
"His areas of expertise really complement those of John Mulvihill and myself, so he will slot very nicely into the coaching team.
"He provides a high level of detail in analysing and improving the set piece.
"His strength also lies with his ability to communicate one-on-one with individual players to improve their scrummaging and lineout technique and execution, which is a crucial skill in today's game.
Darwin said he was lured by the opportunity that the WA team offered.
"This is a superb opportunity to work with John. I spent a couple of days with him in Perth this week and it is obvious why he is regarded as one of the world's great Rugby coaches," Darwin said.
"Living in Perth will be an absolute bonus. It is a rare opportunity to start something new.
"Firstly I want to fulfill my role with Northern Suburbs and I look forward to helping them achieve future success.
The CEO of Darwin's club in Sydney, Northern Suburbs, John Tully, welcomed the appointment.
"We are delighted for Ben and delighted that Norths have been able to play a part in helping to fast track one of the game's bright young coaching talents," Tully said.
"In Ben's short time with us we have seen a major shift in the culture at our club and it has really identified the place as somewhere to go to realise your playing or coaching ambitions."
"Darwin will finish his commitments with Norths at the end of their Tooheys New Cup campaign, but will have input into the appointment of a new head coach, a process that has already begun.
"Ben will maintain strong links with the club. He commenced the rejuventaion of our club this year, where he played for many years and is determined to see that process through," Tully added.
"He is young in coaching terms and will only grow from his involvement with the new Perth franchise."
BEN DARWIN'S PLAYER PROFILE
Position: Tighthead Prop
Height: 186 cm
Weight: 116 kg
D.O.B: 17 October 1976
Club: Northern Suburbs
Super 12 Team: ACT Brumbies
State Caps: 47
Super 12 Caps: 41
Tests: 28 - 2001 L1 (rep), SA1 (rep), NZ1 (rep), SA2 (rep), NZ2 (rep), Sp, E, Fr, W. 2002 NZ1 (rep), SA1 (rep), NZ2 (rep), SA2, Arg (rep), Ire (rep), E (rep), It (rep). 2003 Ire (rep), W (rep), E (rep), SA1 (rep), NZ1 (rep), Arg* (rep), R* (rep), N*, Ire*, S*, NZ*.
Test Points: -
Test Debut: 2001 v Lions
Honours: ACT Brumbies, Australian U21s, Australian Barbarians, Australian Wallabies
Senior Tours: 2001 - UK & Europe. 2002 - Argentina, UK & Europe
* indicates RWC match.
Injury forced Wallaby prop Ben Darwin to announce his retirement from all levels of Rugby in January 2004.Â Darwin suffered a neck injury in the 2003 Rugby World Cup Semi Final win over New Zealand at Telstra Stadium on 15 November 2003.
Darwin made his Test debut for the Wallabies in 2001, coming off the bench in the first match of the Lions series.Â He went on to play a total of 28 Tests and was a part of Bledisloe Cup triumphs in 2001 and 2002.
Educated at Barker College in Sydney, Darwin won selection in the Australian U21s in 1997 then the Australian Barbarians in 1998.
He broke into the ACT Brumbies in 1998 and went on to play 47 matches for the Brumbies including 41 Super 12 games and was an integral part of their 2001 Championship.
Ben Darwin's run-on Test debut in 2001 coincided with Australia's 400th Test match.
Before that historic Test against Spain in Madrid, Darwin played off the bench against the Lions in the first Test at the Gabba in Brisbane.
A strong, technically admired tighthead prop, Darwin was also capable of playing loosehead when required.[/b]