This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
OK
Dublin: 7 °C Saturday 4 April, 2020
Advertisement

Darragh Fanning: 'I pulled at my t-shirt and the blood was bubbling out of my chest'

The Leinster wing writes about the worst injury he has suffered, a punctured lung.

BEING INJURED AT any stage of the season is incredibly frustrating, but I never need too long to remind myself of how fortunate I am.

It’s not just that 51 weeks on from giving and taking passes from distracted Sevens players in Kinsale, I was giving and taking passes from Brian O’Driscoll in the Pro12 – though that’s part of it.

I’m lucky because no rugby injury I’ve suffered has come close to being the worst of my life.

In school and when I was 10 or 11 I’ve had a few breaks of hands but nothing major. I’ve been lucky enough through my senior rugby career: I had a burst appendix that pretty much ended my time in Connacht, a knee injury with Mary’s when I was just out of school and, when I was waiting on surgery for that, I was stabbed.

Giulio Toniolatti and Darragh Fanning Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The night it happened myself, Jonathan Sexton and a couple of other lads from St Mary’s club were out in Rathmines and we ended up trying to break up a fight after leaving the nightclub.

What we couldn’t know then, was that a girl in the middle of everything had a pair of hairdressing scissors. A couple of the lads got slashed, luckily not too badly, but I just managed to catch it straight on and it punctured my lung.

Since it happened I’ve watched it all back again. It’s a surreal experience watching yourself amble around the street without a clue that you’ve been stabbed in the chest.

At the time it felt like I’d been hit with a hammer, or an unbelievable punch. I was probably not quite with it, in shock and with adrenaline coursing through my veins. On the CCTV you can see the blood appear on my t-shirt. I turn away and, when I swing back around, the blood patch on my chest is getting a little bigger.

I was still standing upright and moving almost as if nothing has happened. Until I tried to run over and break up another scuffle, that’s when I needed to catch my breath and looked down at my t-shirt. My first reaction was, ‘someone’s got blood on my new t-shirt,’ but that didn’t last long.

I pulled at the fabric and the blood was bubbling out of my chest – so I knew then that something was pretty wrong.

I was lucky that Laura Dunne, a good friend at the time, was there. She looked after me with one of the bouncers and they got me to the hospital. They fitted me with a valve to drain my chest and that was that. A few days in hospital and I was out of rugby for a while.

There was never a point when I felt my life was in danger – though I’m not sure my mother felt the same way – but it was a pretty scary time. It could have gone horribly wrong if I’d been cut centimetres to the right or left and caught an artery. That could have been the end.

I still have two scars on my chest. One where I had a valve put in to get my lung reinflated and one made much less carefully by the scissors. I don’t really notice those marks anymore. Instead I tend to look closer at the scar on my from my latest injury, a broken arm, from which thankfully I have recovered.

Click

It happened in the last play of the game against Treviso: I carried the ball into contact and twisted. The ball was in my left hand and my right arm was caught down the side and I got hit. I went down, placed the ball back and knew something was wrong.

It’s strange, you would think you’d notice the pain of a broken arm straight away, but it’s not like that. I just felt something was up. I grabbed my arm and could feel the bone was sticking into my skin a bit. It moved and clicked a little bit. I walked off with the doctor just as Jamie Heaslip and Noel Reid ran in the last try. I think my mum must have gotten a gig on TG4’s selection panel, because that’s the second man-of-the-match I’ve stolen off Noel Reid in the last few weeks.

It was brilliant to see the lads back up that win in a tough game against Ulster on Friday and take a big step towards guaranteeing top place in the league.

Realistically, with competition for places being what it is in Leinster’s back three, my best hope of a comeback this season is probably the B&I Cup Final on May 23 in Donnybrook, but who knows? A win in a semi-final might just give me another chance to play Pro12 rugby on the big stage this season.

I might get lucky, again.

‘I can’t wait to get over there’ – Mils Muliaina on his switch to Connacht

Jack McGrath and Andrew Trimble win Leinster and Ulster player awards

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article
  •  

About the author:

Darragh Fanning  / Leinster Rugby winger.

Read next:

COMMENTS (4)