Teenage Sunderland rugby player airlifted to hospital

The air ambulance at the scene in Sunderland.

The air ambulance at the scene in Sunderland.

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A TEENAGE boy was airlifted to hospital after suffering suspected spinal injuries while playing rugby.

Joe Hodgson, 13, was left in agony after being hurt in a clash during a junior match yesterday at Ashbrooke Sports Club in Sunderland.

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 RVI, where he underwent tests and treatment.

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.”

The young player is understood to have been diagnosed with “soft tissue damage” but is now recovering.

Mr Geehan said: “Thankfully, it wasn’t as serious as we first feared. I’ve spoken to his parents and he’s feeling a lot better. He’ll be off school today, but hopefully it won’t be for too much longer.

“He’s a bit of a celebrity after everything that happened yesterday at the match and with the air ambulance.”

Scores of young rugby players meet at the ground every Sunday to play matches.

A spokesman for the GNAA said it was vital that the casualty was transferred to hospital as quickly as possible.

He said: “We were called at 11.50am to Ashbrooke, Sunderland, after a 13-year-old local boy had sustained a potentially serious spinal injury while playing rugby.

“Due to the cold and wet conditions, it was imperative that the patient was taken to hospital as quickly as possible.

“After being checked over and immobilised by GNAA medics, he was airlifted by the charity’s Guardian of the North helicopter to the RVI in Newcastle, where he underwent tests.”

The game between Sunderland Under 14s and Darlington Mowden Park was called off.