Airlifted Sunderland rugby teen vows to play on

Joe Hodgson, of Ford, Sunderland, who is now home being airlifted to hospital after he was injured in a rugby match.
Joe Hodgson, of Ford, Sunderland, who is now home being airlifted to hospital after he was injured in a rugby match.
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TEENAGE rugby player Joe Hodgson today told how he was counting down the days to his next match – despite being airlifted to hospital after suffering spinal injuries in a game.

The 13-year-old was left in agony after being hurt in a clash during an Under 13s match on Sunday, at Ashbrooke Sports Club, in Sunderland, as reported in the Echo.

The Great North Air Ambulance (GNAA) was called in, landing on the pitch, as team-mates looked on in shock.

The St Aidan’s School pupil was flown to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary, where he underwent tests and treatment for suspected spinal injuries.

But just 48 hours after the drama, Joe, from Fourstones Road, Ford Estate, said he is looking forward to his next game in the new year.

He was diagnosed with “soft tissue damage” and is now on the road to recovery.

“My back is still hurting and a bit stiff, but I’m feeling a lot better,” he said.

“I don’t remember much about what happened. I went in for the tackle and my head was right in there. After that, it’s pretty much a blur.

“But it hasn’t put me off the sport at all.

“Our next match is on Sunday, which is a bit too soon for me, although I’m looking forward to getting back in 2012.”

Sport-mad Joe, whose dad Tony coaches his son’s team at Sunderland RFC while his 11-year-old brother Matthew is in the Under 12s, has been playing rugby for the past six years.

“I love it,” he said. “It’s a great game.”

Paul Geehan, chairman of Sunderland RFC, said: “It was a real shock to everybody, particularly when the players are at such a young age.

“We never take any chances with an injury like that, so we called an ambulance straight away. We wanted to get him to hospital as quickly as possible.”

A spokesman for the GNAA said: “Due to the injury and the cold and wet conditions, it was imperative that the patient was taken to hospital as quickly as possible.”

The game between Sunderland Under 13s and Darlington Mowden Park was called off.

Twitter: @sunderlandecho