Rhys Sadler: Down But Not Out!

Updated: Mar 29, 2021

To celebrate our 100th article, we reached out to Rhys Sadler, an inspiring Rugby player with an incredible story. Rhys was a keen, young player at the start of his Gosford All Blacks career when an unfortunate series of events led him down a different path. Following an injury sustained in a local league game, the situation escalated quickly, causing him to lose his left leg above the knee.

Since that life changing injury, back in April 2019, Rhys has continued his love of rugby by joining his closest wheelchair rugby team in Berkshire.

His story and fight-back have garnered support from around the world. We had the awesome opportunity of catching up with Rhys earlier this week to detail life since his accident.

Q. Rhys, how are you finding lockdown 3.0?

A. It’s been hard adjusting to everything going on, lockdown has hit hard especially this third one. I had just got back to work and starting to build up stamina on my prosthetic leg. Going from no work in the first two lockdowns to doing two or three shifts a week was hard to keep up the energy and now to go back to 'no work', I have so much extra energy that I can’t figure out how to burn.

Q. What’s your first rugby memory?

A. My first rugby memory was when I was around four. I remember being down in Wales playing tag rugby just running round throwing a ball to whoever I could. It was one of my favourite moments and one of only a hand full good moments I remember my dad being in.

Q. Favourite rugby moment (personal or supporting a team)?

A. My favourite moment being a supporter was probably when Wales beat England in the 2015 World Cup to help knock them out of their own World Cup. I enjoyed it so much because all of my friends were English and just being able to gloat was amazing.

But my favourite moment as a player was probably scoring my first try for Gosford. I remember it because it was my first game playing without one of my brothers. It was a very wet and windy day and I remember picking the ball up from the back of the ruck just outside the 22 then running in under the posts.

Q. How was the support from the people around you after the accident?

A. The support from people around me was mixed. I had a disagreement with my family, who I no longer have contact with, but my fiancé’s family have made me feel like a part of their family and that is the only reason I am able to do the things I like to.

Q. I saw Juan de Jongh and a few other famous faces came down to show their support. How was it meeting them?

A. It was crazy! I didn’t think anyone like that would pay any attention to something like my accident but it actually started with Alun Wyn Jones sending me a video message whilst I was in hospital and then to meet Juan was incredible. On top of that, to get the hand written letter from Joe Launchbury was just amazing, and to hopefully meet him once COVID is over and done with will be insane, especially as we play the same position so it would have been nice to get some pointers off of someone who has played for his country.

Q. How has been it adjusting to life post rugby?

A. It’s probably been one of the worst times in my life. Obviously, with my accident and losing my leg, and then losing my grandad to cancer a few months later, and then my great Nan another few months after that; but mixing in falling out with my entire family (for reasons I won’t go into detail).

It’s been hard, the only reason I have come through this is because of my fiancé Evelyn and her family. If it wasn’t for them when I needed them I wouldn’t be alive to share my story with whoever is reading. But despite all of that, losing my leg has showed me how much I can do without my leg. I’ve learnt the things I used to love to do that I can no longer do! Things such as ice skating and even little achievements like walking without getting out of breath.

Q. I saw that you have taken up wheelchair rugby, how you finding it?

A. It’s incredible! I barely even knew it was a thing until one day a guy asked me if I was interested in wheelchair sports in a random elevator when I was out shopping. A few weeks later I was at the training session and now that random guy is a really good friend of mine. It got even better a few months ago I received my personalised chair ready to use as soon as we are able to get back to playing once it’s safe.

Q. What club are you now playing for?

A. I now play for Berkshire Banshees who are based in Reading.

Q. Plans for the future?

A. I don’t really have any plans right now. I’m hoping to get back to work again soon and hopefully get back into wheelchair rugby. I'd say to get down to watch the rest of the lads at Gosford and maybe one day they can get a player as good as me haha.

Q. Do we need a new rugby game for console?

A. Definitely especially one like FIFA or NBA because they have the best kind of games.

Q. Finally, Six Nations predictions? Who’s winning this year and who’s getting the spoon?

A. Being a Welshman I have to say Wales to win and Italy to get the spoon.

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