Michael Fatialofa suffered a neck injury at the weekend which thankfully isn't as serious as first thought. He has swelling around his spinal chord, but luckily no broken bones. Playing rugby you always have the thought of injury at the back of your mind. You obviously can't play thinking about this as that is when you will most likely get injured.
He had come on as a replacement and had only been on for a minute when he was injured, talk about bad luck. The one part of your body you always made sure was warm and subtle was your back and neck. We used to spend the minutes before kick off in the changing room going through our own set routines and mine would be clicking my back with various stretches plus a neck exercise. I would never ever just run onto a pitch without doing those first as it was my way of saying to myself I will be just fine.
Not everyone is lucky as players get seriously injured and most of them are from other players who don't understand the dangers that are lurking around. Yes it is a macho sport ,but you also have to use common sense at certain times. There is nothing worse than hearing someone screaming at the bottom of the ruck with 10 players lying on top of him.
You just hope and pray there isn't an idiot who keeps on pushing once it collapses. Some players do and they just don't understand the dangers.
My biggest fear was at scrum time as if one side gets the momentum and you hold your ground by digging in with your boots you have a problem if your front row pops up. In this case you have three guys suspended on your shoulders and your legs are going to be taken from you at any second. I used to hit my guys if they couldn't keep it straight as this is very dangerous and where injuries occur.
The team with the upper hand then wants to buckle the opposition scrum making it resemble a car wreck which can get ugly if not officiated correctly. This is why I say only ex players should be refereeing a contact sport as they know what to look for. Unfortunately some of the serious injuries happen in school games where a teacher has taken up the whistle and is clueless on how to keep the game safe.
Not a comfortable position to be in.
Rules have changed over the years with the scrum and you have to bind with the opposing team before you engage. When we played there could be as much as half a meter gap between the teams and you could hear them colliding to start the scrum. Front row players were prone to neck injuries at the time as the scrums often collapsed with the hookers head nose diving into the ground.
Owen Farrell should know better than to just use his shoulder for tackling as this is dangerous and should be an automatic red card. He is a known offender as he has been caught numerous times before, but gets away with this and he needs to learn before he injures someone seriously.
The game is a lot safer today and rarely do you see the stretcher and neck brace being used to carry players off the field. It is not something you ever want to see as some of these injuries are life changing. I am sure Michael Fatialofa will make a full recovery, but this is his career and hopefully will be allowed to continue playing.