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Young rugby player in hospital after breaking his neck during tournament

Anzil Williams broke his neck in two places during a rugby match on day one.

Anzil Williams broke his neck in two places during a rugby match on day one.

Published Oct 4, 2023


A grade 11 learner from Humansdorp Secondary School in the Eastern Cape is recovering in hospital after sustaining neck and spinal injuries during a rugby tournament in Knysna on Saturday.

Anzil Williams broke his neck in two places during a rugby match on day one, according to the school.

In a post on social media, the school asked for prayers, saying doctors had told his family that he was paralysed from the neck down. Williams was attempting to tackle another player from the Rheenendal Boys U16 Boys team during the match.

Tournament organiser Aschin Klein said the incident happened fast.

“Anzil attempted to tackle one of the players from the Rheenendal Boys, after that he went down. The referee immediately blew the whistle and called on the paramedics and the first aiders for assistance. The game was stopped for about 15 minutes. He was rushed to hospital by ambulance,” he said.

The 16-year-old is described as being passionate about the sport, and had been looking forward to the tournament.

Williams’s family relative, Shahida Japtha, said: “He was very excited, he couldn’t wait. That’s what he loves, he loves rugby – it’s his passion. The family is trying to cope under the circumstances. He was transferred from George to Cape Town where he will have his surgery. We will know more then. But we are hopeful and staying in prayer,” she said.

The school’s rugby coach, Warren van Rooyen, said they were also praying for Williams’s recovery.

“The team is still very emotional. It was difficult to continue after the incident.

“The team has said they wanted to continue with the tournament and win the tournament for Anzil. Even when I visited him in hospital, he told me to tell the team to make sure they win. The incident was very unfortunate. We are all praying for him and keeping him in our hearts,” he said.

Eastern Cape Department of Education spokesperson Mali Mtima said they were aware of the incident.

“We have been in constant communication with the family, the school and the hospital to ensure everyone is kept informed.

“The school has organised transportation of the parent of the boy, to be next to him. We are also keeping him in our prayers and hope he recovers well,” he said.

Provincial Health Department spokesperson Megan Davids confirmed that EMS had responded to the scene.

“Upon arrival, the patient received medical assessment and was thereafter transported to Knysna Provincial Hospital. At 2.45pm, the patient was transferred from Knysna Provincial Hospital to George Provincial Hospital to receive specialised medical treatment.”

Cape Times