Owen Williams: Injured Cardiff Blues player 'focused on rugby'

The brother and father of injured rugby player Owen Williams tell Scrum V how support on Social media is helping Wales international
Scrum V's Owen Williams interview
Channel: BBC Two Wales & online Date: Sunday, 7 September Time: From 18:45 BST

The family of injured Cardiff Blues rugby player Owen Williams say the Wales international has not lost his passion for the sport.

Williams suffered a "significant injury" to his cervical vertebrae and spinal cord while playing in a tournament in Singapore in June.

The 22-year-old has been following the Blues' progress from hospital.

"He's still focused on rugby," Williams' father Huw told Scrum V presenter Ross Harries.

Owen Williams and dog
Owen Williams has been visited by his dog Riley in Cardiff's Rookwood hospital

"If Owen couldn't handle watching rugby then I think we would have had a similar reaction, but he's been quite the opposite.

"He's been asking [the Blues players] how training is going. He's been picking up on certain individuals who he knew would perform well.

"He's asking Gafyn Cooper, the Blues team manager, about the new coach [Mark Hammett and] the new training sessions all the time.

"He's asked about going to watch Blues games, he wanted to go and watch the game against Exeter. Unfortunately, he realised himself he wasn't quite right for that."

The four-cap Wales international was injured in the first half of the Blues' 26-17 defeat by Asia Pacific Dragons in the third-place play-off of the World Club 10s.

He was initially treated in Singapore before being transferred by air ambulance back to Wales and then onto the Welsh Spinal Injuries and Neurological Rehabilitation Unit in early July.

But Williams is now sitting up and spending time out of hospital as he continues his recovery.

In the interview that will be screened on Scrum V on Sunday, 7 September from 18:45 BST, Gavin Williams says his brother has been an inspiration.

"I had to take a break from coaching and rugby...but Owen wouldn't want that anyway, he would want us to carry on," said Gavin Williams.

"The fact he's so supportive of the Blues now and he still wants to go watch the games, he'll definitely have a role to play whatever it is.

Owen Williams' brother Gavin
"He's so switched on in the head. He'll definitely do something with his life whatever capability he has. He'll definitely do something that will make people just think 'wow'."

"It's such a rare accident that I don't think it should turn people away from the sport."

Williams is using the gym at Rookwood Hospital for "upper limb rehabilitation" and his father says he is making progress.

"He's got a good bit of movement in his left arm so he's working on that quite a bit to get a bit more controlled movement," said Huw Williams.

"His right arm is a bit more uncontrolled. But again he is working on that as well.

"He can move it which is the good thing and that is slowly getting better.

"He had a couple of little infections which has brought him down more than the injury itself.

"He just wants to get that out of the way so he can crack on with his rehab.

"Mentally, Owen is very good. He's pretty upbeat."

After the former Aberdare RFC player was injured, a social media campaign was launched using the hashtag StayStrongForOws, which received support from around the world.

The Blues said more than 14,000 #StayStrongForOws wristbands have been sold to raise money for Williams.

The Williams family say they have been overwhelmed by the support and are staying positive.

"He's so switched on in the head. He'll definitely do something with his life whatever capability he has," said Gavin Williams.

"He'll definitely do something that will make people just think 'wow'."