Owen Williams was regarded one of Welsh rugby’s most promising prospects but in 2014 the winger suffered a serious injury to his neck while playing for the Cardiff Blues in the World Cup 10s Singapore.
Since then the four-Test international has shown remarkable bravery and resilience to undertake an extensive rehabilitation programme, alongside spearheading a fundraising and awareness campaign to support himself and others who find themselves in a similar situation.
His positive message and actions have received thousands of messages of support from around the world and #StayStrongForOws even began to trend on social media. The campaign encourages the world of rugby and sport to unite and provide support to Owen, who continues his battle every day.
Owen stopped in Dubai en route back to Singapore where a Stay Strong for Ows week is being held from 23-27 February to raise funds through a corporate touch rugby tournament, a rugby coaching clinic, a golf day and a charitable evening ball.
The aim of the weeks’ events is to raise much needed funds to help Owen with his ongoing recovery and medical treatment.
Owen said, “There were a lot of dark days to begin with, but with the support from everyone around the world I have picked myself up and got on with it.”
“Life is different, but I’m ready for its challenges and excited to see what the future holds.”
ENGLAND LOOKING REMARKABLY LANCASTER-ESQUE AHEAD OF IRELAND
Chris Robshaw at six and Luther Burrell recalled to replenish the centre stocks… is it 2014 again?
Under Eddie Jones English fans expected a total revamp of a faltering squad but instead it looks like the wily Australian is reverting back to tried and tested players in a bid to land England’s first Six Nations title since 2011.
Admittedly Burrell is being justly rewarded for a dramatic upturn in form for Northampton, but surely England can find a more dynamic player than Robshaw to try and keep summer tour opponents Australia awake at night?
While the Harlequins’ skipper may have been included in the squad due to a lack of better alternatives, Burrell’s addition to suggests that Jones is finally waking up to the fact that a domestic fly-half (Owen Farrell) cannot be seen as a realistic centre option against decent international opposition like Ireland.
The Saint claimed to be left ‘broken’ by his Rugby World Cup omission due to Sam Burgess’s inclusion and it will be interesting to see whether the the damage to his confidence is repairable or not.
WOODEN SPOON CLASH MAYBE NOT SUCH A BAD SPECTACLE
When Scotland travel to Italy on Saturday, the liklihood is that the result will once again decide who takes home last place in the Six Nations.
However unlike in recent years where this dour fixture was devoid of any running, fun or tries, the 2016 edition is set to be an altogether different type of occasion.
While results still show that these two teams are still resolutely maintaining their 100% lose records, the manner of those losses speaks volumes for their progression.
Against England Italy showed that they are finally developing the spine of a decent outfit, with fly-half Carlo Canna and outside centre Michele Capagnaro in particular showing up their opposite numbers in George Ford and Jonathan Joseph on several occasions.
Scotland meanwhile have gone from a five-year dearth of talent at fly-half to a team with two particularly potent playmakers in Finn Russell and Ruaridh Jackson – both of whom look to run the ball as a first instinct and have set up tries for their colleagues.
LUKE CHARTERIS INJURY COULD PROVE DECISIVE FOR WALES AGAISNT FRANCE
When it was announced on Tuesday that Luke Charteris was ruled out of Saturday’s Six Nations clash with France, Welsh hearts sank.
While replacement Bradley Davies is a very capable lock, Bath-bound Charteris has been his team’s heartbeat in the opening two rounds.
Against Scotland he was a man possessed, providing a robust option at the lineout with intense physicality at the breakdown and in the loose.
It is this presence at the breakdown that will have Gallic lips smacking as France, while fairly aimless in attack, have been hugely dominant in the tight forwards and will take this opportunity to try and run over the Welsh in Cardiff.
Wales must combat the injury by playing an expansive game from the go, giving George North as many carries as possible in order to penetrate the weaker French back division.