You don’t have to have witnessed a serious injury on the rugby field to understand how it can literally change someone’s life in seconds. Rugby isn’t the only activity where brutality, danger and camaraderie sit side-by-side. Like soldiers going off to battle, we stand shoulder to shoulder with our mates on the pitch, ready to defend each other in the face of the opposition.
This book isn’t really about rugby at all, even though the life-changing event which befell Yogi Davies happened to take place on a rugby field. In fact it could have happened anywhere. This book is about the incredible compassion and resilience of people; families, friends and communities supporting someone they care for in their time of need.
Like the event itself, Yogi’s description of his fateful injury is over in seconds. But what followed in the six years afterwards is truly remarkable. In spite of a seemingly hopeless prognosis and near total paralysis, he was able to return home to his family in Bala.
The story of Yogi’s injury, its aftermath, his heroic struggle and determination to resume as normal a life as possible at home with his family is truly inspirational. There are also many moments of light relief. Yogi was definitely one of those characters you recognise from Welsh rural life. A mischievous young tearaway with a generosity and warmth you can’t fail to love. These qualities leap out of the page in Yogi’s own words.
What are the lessons we should learn from Yogi’s story? There’s the obvious ones about ensuring that we’re all trained to try to prevent injuries on the pitch, and also to know how to react in the immediate aftermath when they do occur. But as we know, these kind of accidents can happen to anyone, at any time. The real lesson here is that underneath the fragile muscles, tissues and bones, we show our true strength in the way in which we care for our fellow human beings when they need our help.
Bryan “Yogi” Davies died on Friday 30th August 2013 at his home in Bala.