Ruth is the human interest reporter and a photographer for the Bay of Plenty Times.

School rugby match turns to 'hell' after serious neck injury

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Louis Grindrod with the halo neck brace which was put on his head after his first operation.
Louis Grindrod with the halo neck brace which was put on his head after his first operation.

A Mount father says his family has been through a "weekend from hell" after his son suffered a serious neck injury in a secondary school rugby game.

Tauranga Boys' College Second XV rugby player Louis Grindrod sustained a dislocated vertebrae in his neck after he was tackled five minutes into the match against Napier Boys' High School on Saturday.

The 16-year-old had picked up the rugby ball, run from the back of a scrum, was tackled and fell on his shoulder and neck.

He was complaining of a sore neck, and screaming in pain. It was just awful. It happened pretty quick, all a bit of blur in my eyes.
Peter Grindrod, father

Peter Grindrod, said he and his wife, Alicia, had travelled to Napier on Friday night to watch the game against Napier Boys' High School.

"It was one of those unfortunate accidents, you can't blame anybody - it's just the joys of sport I guess. He was basically at the bottom of the ruck. The ref stopped the game [and] got everybody off Louie. We kept him still and held him so he didn't move while we waited for the ambulance to get to him.

"He was complaining of a sore neck, and screaming in pain. It was just awful. It happened pretty quick, all a bit of blur in my eyes."

Mr Grindrod said his son went straight into the operating theatre at Napier Base Hospital and woke up with a halo neck brace.

The injury also damaged his son's spinal cord, he said.

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Yesterday, Louis was flown to Middlemore Hospital's spinal unit. His mother, Alicia, accompanied him on the flight.

Mr Grindrod said the long-term prognosis for his son was good but it would be a long road to recovery.

"It will be long and slow, but he has feeling back. There is a 78-hour period and if you have feeling back in that time, it's a good thing. He has movement everywhere, so they are really rapt with that.

"Some people don't have movement for weeks. On Sunday, he couldn't move his left leg or his foot. Monday he could wiggle his toes and lift his leg," he said.

"Everywhere else is slowly coming back to life, the nerves are waking back up."

Mr Grindrod said his son would have to undergo another operation today to fuse number four and number five vertebrae in his neck.

Mr Grindrod said his son was in high spirits.

"He's probably doing better than me and mum to be honest. Obviously he is gutted, he loves his footy. He was going to play for the Bay under-16s this year. He played under-15s last year.

Louis Grindrod with his mother, Alicia Grindrod.
Louis Grindrod with his mother, Alicia Grindrod.

"He was hoping to play for Tauranga Boys' College First XV next year, although the school has said he could still travel to Europe with the team."

Mr Grindrod said Louis' school and the local community had been supportive.
"We want to thank everybody for all the love and support."

Tauranga Boys' College principal Robert Mangan was also at the game on Saturday morning.

He said the school had set up a Givealittle page to support Louis.

"Rugby was the love of his life, it was his passion. He was young for being in the Second XV, there are only two other Year 11 boys in the team. It shows you his skills as a player."

Support Louis:

* To support Louis and his journey to recovery, visit the Givealittle page set up by Tauranga Boys' College at Givealittle.

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