Following the ‘fire-pit’ accident that caused Springboks Damian de Allende and RG Snyman substantial burns, SARugbymag.co.za looks at other unusual injuries.
Scott Baldwin (Wales/Ospreys) – Lion bite
Back in 2017, Welsh hooker Scott Baldwin made headlines when he was bitten on the hand by a lion while touring South Africa with the Ospreys, in the buildup to their game against the Cheetahs.
The Ospreys took time out of their schedule to visit the Weltevrede Game Lodge near Bloemfontein. During the visit, Baldwin attempted to stroke a lion that had put its head up against the bars of the enclosure.
However, the big cat quickly turned and latched on to his hand. Fortunately for Baldwin, he was able to recoil and the lion freed his hand before any substantial damage was done.
In the end, Baldwin needed only a short trip to the hospital for stitches and missed the game against the Cheetahs, but it could have been far worse.
It’s fair to say that then Ospreys boss (current British & Irish Lions defence coach) Steve Tandy was less than impressed with Baldwin’s actions.
‘In fairness, it was nothing to do with the lion,’ Tandy commented at the time. ‘It was pretty stupid on Scott’s behalf and he is pretty lucky. It was a good environment and we were told how far back to stand. I don’t know what sort of wildlife show Scott has been watching where you can pat a lion on the head as if it’s a kitten.It’s probably one of the silliest things I’ve even been involved in.’
Martin Castrogiovanni (Italy) – Dog bite
Italian prop Martin Castrogiovanni was infamously ruled out of the team’s Six Nations clash with Scotland in 2015 after being bitten on the nose by a dog.
The then-33-year-old Toulon prop was playing with a friend’s dog and needed 14 stitches to the inflicted wound.
A media release sent out by the Italian Rugby Federation referred to it as a ‘slight domestic incident’.
Castrogiovanni’s place in the squad was taken by then Wasps prop Lorenzo Cittadini. Even without one of their most experienced players, Italy were still able to claim a 22-15 victory and finished above Scotland on the log.
Johan Goosen (South Africa/Racing 92) – Bus injury
When Johan Goosen was still playing for Racing 92 in 2014, his injury curse would rear its head in the most bizarre of circumstances.
Arriving the day before club’s match away against Toulouse, Goosen injured his knee while he was climbing down the stairs to get out of the team bus.
Racing 92 were already without Johnny Sexton, who had been ruled out with a concussion, and lost the match 15-9.
Matt Banahan (England/Bath) – Dishwasher
Bath’s longest-serving player added to the list of bizarre injuries after slicing open his wrist while using his dishwasher.
The injury thankfully only required several stitches and Banahan was able to recover during the pre-season.
Sam Jones (England/Wasps) – Judo
Former Wasps flank Sam Jones was pushing for a place in Eddie Jones’ England team after receiving his first call-up to the squad in 2016 for Tests against the Springboks, Australia, Argentina and Fiji.
However, in a team judo session during their training camp, Jones suffered an ankle dislocation while sparring with teammate Maro Itoje.
Unfortunately, despite a series of operations, Jones was forced to retire from all rugby in 2018.
Alasdair Strokosch and Joe Ansbro (Scotland) – Headbutt celebration
Who can forget this one?
Back in 2012, Scotland claimed their first victory over the Wallabies in Australia since 1982, thanks to a last-minute penalty from Greig Laidlaw.
However, in the immediate celebrations that followed, Laidlaw was engulfed in the middle of the park by his teammates. Ansbro and Strockosch dived into the huddle with impeccable timing, literally flying in headfirst and splitting each other open.
Neither player seemed to be annoyed by it, though, as they were still delighted by the result.
Wayne ‘Buck’ Shelford (All Blacks) – Torn scrotum
All Blacks great ‘Buck’ Shelford was infamously a victim of a 1986 Test against France, which would be dubbed as the ‘Battle of Nantes’.
Roughly 20 minutes into his second Test appearance, the loose forward was trapped at the bottom of a ruck, during which a French boot found its way on to his scrotum, resulting in a tear and leaving one of his testicles hanging free. The incident also caused him to lose four teeth.
Incredibly, Shelford continued to play on after asking the New Zealand physio to stitch him up. It was only later in the second half that he was substituted due to a concussion.