The story behind one of Welsh rugby’s most distressing pictures and what happened next

The screams had been heard from the press self-discipline excessive up all through the stands at Suncorp Stadium.

On account of shut proximity of a pitchside tv microphone, the crack was heard world massive.

That noise was Chris Czekaj’s appropriate femur – one among many strongest bones all through the human physique – breaking in 5 areas as he suffered a spiral fracture.

“Take a stick and twist it to interrupt it, it could very effectively be all fragmented with bits hanging off it, that’s a spiral fracture,” he explains to WalesOnline.

“So yea, it wasn’t the correct.”

The sound accompanied by Czekaj’s painful cries left the severity of the harm misplaced on no person.

Mercilessly, replays of the incident had been confirmed on the big screens contained inside the stadium and on tv.

“You don’t ought to see that anymore occasions thanks, Mr video man,” instructed the Australian commentator.

Sentiments everybody watching on that day agreed with.

“I wouldn’t actually establish it ache,” remembers Czekaj. “It was extra of a numbness.

“I used to be in shock. I clearly realised one issue dangerous had occurred nonetheless I couldn’t describe the ache in the least actually.”

It was June 2007 and Wales had been on a summer time season tour of Australia with the Rugby World Cup in France looming a couple of months later.

Czekaj, aged 21, was making his technique in professional rugby and incomes his sixth cap for Wales, having impressed for the Cardiff Blues that season.

A pointy exterior as soon as extra with dimension to affiliate with it, Czekaj was earmarked by the great Jonah Lomu – whom he’d carried out with all via the All Black good’s quick stint all through the Welsh capital – as a youthful man with an infinite future. Excessive reward really.

He’d merely carried out in his first Six Nations and his profession was on an thrilling trajectory.

“I’d been having enjoyable with efficiently for the Blues, then had quite a lot of video video video games in that Six Nations and was discovering my toes at that stage,” he remembers.

“I carried out efficiently all through the primary sport of that tour in Australia and there was a World Cup merely all through the nook.

“It was a terribly thrilling time in my profession.

“I used to be solely 21. It was the best of my second season as an expert rugby participant nonetheless the purpose was to make that World Cup squad.

“Factors had been wanting up nonetheless then…”

Chris Czekaj in motion in opposition to Scotland all through the 2007 Six Nations

Contained in the 22nd minute of the second Confirm in opposition to Australia in Brisbane, Czekaj seen some area down the brief side.

He picked the ball up from the as soon as extra of a ruck and went for the outlet. It closed faster than anticipated as Aussie hooker Stephen Moore jammed in to make the sort out.

“It was a nothing type out actually nonetheless I fell awkwardly after which I merely felt a snap and I heard it too,” says Czekaj.

“Immediately I knew it was dangerous.”

Various shrill blasts of the whistle from referee Paul Honiss launched play to an instantaneous halt as veteran Wales workers physio Mark Davies rushed to his participant’s help.

Czekaj acquired on-field remedy for numerous minutes earlier than being loaded onto a stretcher with captain Gareth Thomas lingering all through the scene to supply his help.

“They needed to straighten my leg. That bit was scary,” he remembers.

“The physio urged me he was going to do it after which he merely did it immediately. There was no ready spherical.

“I used to be stretchered off and launched into the physio room.”

Czekaj’s girlfriend Kat, now his companion, was at his mother and father’ dwelling as soon as extra in Wales on account of the household all gathered to observe the sport.

“Actually one in all many docs grabbed my telephone and requested who to name,” he continues.

“I think about they rang my girlfriend or my mum. That that they had been all sat at residence collectively watching.

“My mum later described the best way during which it felt all through the room when that occurred. It was greater than possible worse for them on account of they’re on the choice side of the world and can’t do one factor to assist.

“That that they had been contacted shortly nonetheless it wasn’t immediately in order that they’d been left to marvel what was occurring.”

Chris Czekaj is stretchered off the sphere
(Picture: Getty Images)
Czekaj is taken from the field
Czekaj is taken from the sphere

From there, Czekaj was put at the back of an ambulance and delivered to an area hospital the place further assessments is probably made.

A painful assortment of x-rays, which required his physique to be manipulated into completely fully totally different positions, revealed the extent of the damage.

An everyday misunderstanding concerning the incident is that he broken his knee nonetheless that’s not the case. The ligaments in his appropriate knee had been left completely intact.

It was merely the femur that wished consideration. The surgical restore required to deal with a spiral fracture is fraught with potential points nonetheless Czekaj’s was worthwhile.

“They made an incision on the prime of my leg, took all of the bone marrow out and put the rod straight by means of the center of the bone,” he explains.

“A pin was put all through the guts they usually put the rod in to protected it in place. There was a screw on the prime and a pair on the underside to carry it there.

“The surgeon urged me he hadn’t seen many accidents like this and the one time he had was as a result of bike accidents.

“That’s not good to take heed to.”

Stuffed with youthful optimism, the winger’s consideration shortly turned to his rehabilitation and return to the having enjoyable with subject.

The Rugby World Cup that was on the horizon was clearly out of the image nonetheless fully he hadn’t laced his boots up for the ultimate phrase time?

Upon asking the query, he was served a dose of actuality.

“I clearly requested: ‘Am I going to have the facility to play as quickly as further? When can I play as quickly as further?’” He says.

“The surgeon didn’t actually reply me, he merely acknowledged: ‘We wish to get you as soon as extra strolling and with the facility to run spherical collectively alongside along with your children’.

“That hit me fairly onerous.

“Nonetheless I used to be so youthful, I used to be merely adamant that this was not going to cease me having enjoyable with as quickly as further.

“That obtained me by means of. On the time I didn’t have any , it was rugby or nothing in the mean time in my life.”

The Welsh Rugby Union had instantly flown Czekaj’s girlfriend out to Australia to supply help and he was grounded all through the nation for a further two weeks after spending the primary seven days of restoration in hospital.

Actually one in all many docs who’d tended to him at Suncorp, a woman named Lisa Smith, kindly supplied using a visit residence all through the idyllic coastal space of Noosa till he was match to fly residence.

“I suppose we had some kind of journey out of it,” he laughs. “We now have now the reminiscences as efficiently, we’ll on a regular basis bear in mind our time within the market.

“She [Lisa] helped out lots and sorted us. My companion has been as soon as extra over to go to since, I haven’t managed to go nonetheless I wish to. We keep up a correspondence.”

What adopted was a 14-month rehabilitation course of, together with frequent x-rays to confirm the bone was therapeutic appropriately.

Following the recommendation of docs and physiotherapists, remarkably, he was match to start the 2008/09 season.

His first sport as soon as extra was in opposition to a Cardiff Blues Premiership Choose XV, a workers that included a youthful Leigh Halfpenny, at Sardis Street.

“There have been nerves, having been out for subsequently extended, nonetheless I used to be excited,” he says.

“I’d solely accomplished one little little little bit of full contact, on the Thursday earlier than the sport on the pads with Dan Baugh, and that was it.

“The entire gadgets else was establishing it up, working and the pre-season work we had been doing.

“It was nerve-wracking and it was the an similar for my household who had been there watching. It was greater than possible worse for them.”

A 30 minute try off the bench was handed and Czekaj would go to characterize the Blues over 140 occasions and bought what was, by his personal admission, a shock call-up to the Wales squad for the 2009 summer time season tour to America and Canada.

He obtained two further caps all through the 2010 autumn assortment, in opposition to Australia and South Africa, nonetheless that may very well be his closing involvement with Wales, incomes 9 caps in complete.

It is strong to not ponder how factors may need gone in a parallel universe, the place the harm under no circumstances occurred.

Chris Czekaj in motion in opposition to South Africa in 2010

“The harm positively had an have an effect on on the remainder of my profession,” he admits.

“I’m not saying I might have been nailed on for the World Cup in 2007 nonetheless I used to be aiming for it and my prospects would have been first cost after having a unbelievable few video video video games in Australia.

“In relation to my tempo, I think about I obtained most of it as soon as extra after the harm nonetheless it didn’t final so long as it could have accomplished if I hadn’t have been injured.

“It positively had an impression nonetheless then I nonetheless managed to have a full profession after it, so I rely myself fortunate in that regard.

“To be urged that I could not play rugby as quickly as further nonetheless then come as soon as extra in merely over a 12 months and nonetheless go on and play extra video video video games for the Blues and get extra caps. I’m happy with that.”

Regardless of the severity of his leg break, it doesn’t rank on account of the worst harm of his profession.

“There’s no such issue as a comparability,” he insists.

Czekaj left the Blues to affix Colomiers all through the French second division in 2014. In his second sport for his new membership, he suffered a concussion and was left unconscious for 20 minutes.

He suffered a seizure as a result of blow to the best and stopped respiration. He was intubated by involved medics and later stabilised in hospital.

The outcomes of the grade three concussion lingered and altered his character for a time interval, making him extra agitable.

“It’s your head on the tip of the day. If one issue occurs to that, nothing else actually factors, does it?” He components out.

“That was a difficult time, for my household as efficiently.

“I’ve put them by means of lots in my profession.”

After a difficult stint at Colomiers, he had an pleasing two years at Bedford Blues all through the English Championship earlier than returning to Wales, linking up with Merthyr RFC all through the Welsh Premiership. He has furthermore taken up a job as a WRU hub officer and has ambitions of shifting into instructing.

With the present season now abruptly ended as a result of coronavirus pandemic, Czekaj, now 34, is nevertheless to seek out out if he’ll proceed having enjoyable with subsequent 12 months. Nonetheless when he does, will probably be his closing season all through the game.

Now, then, seems to be like as if a great time to replicate.

“I really actually really feel privileged to have carried out the sport so long as I’ve,” he says.

“I wouldn’t say I’m harm weak – I do know gamers who’ve had rather more accidents than me – nonetheless I’ve had my truthful proportion.

“That acknowledged, I’ve at all times come as soon as extra.

“I’m happy with what I’ve accomplished and what I’ve come as soon as extra from.”

There might very effectively be few who would begrudge him that.

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