Bedford Blues’ Will Hooley suffered a “very bad concussion” as Team USA faced England in their first Rugby World Cup match at Kobe today.
Team USA Coach Gary Gold confirmed Hooley’s injuries after the match that saw the fly half stretchered off in the final minutes of the game.
Hooley, who qualifies to play for Team USA via an American grandmother, hit his head hard on the pitch after a tackle by Mark Wilson on his way down from intercepting a high ball.
Referee, Australian Nic Berry, called the game back for an urgent stop in the 78th minute; a stipulation rarely seen in professional rugby and an indication that the injury to Hooley was serious.
Despite being stretchered off to the applause of the crowd and among some commiserating faces from both sets of players, Hooley’s World Cup certainly looks to be over with Team USA’s head coach Gary Gold confirming the extent of the injury after the game.
Francis could face disciplinary action
Hooley seemed to experience the brunt of England’s force in their effort to pick up the pace of their World Cup campaign.
In a separate incident during the first minute of the game, Hooley suffered an unquestionably dangerous tackle from England’s Piers Francis, a tackle that may now see him facing a citing and possible suspension.
England coach Eddie Jones later told reporters he will accept any punishment that comes England’s way. With rumours the second incident could also be reviewed.
It is not the first time Hooley has suffered from a serious concussion, as he missed a lot of the 2016-17 season with a serious concussion during his time with Exeter Chiefs.
However, he made a successful comeback for the Blues, signing up to play at Goldington Road in 2017 and becoming a popular and vital member of the squad.
Despite the controversy, England won the match with a convincing 45-7 win and now go on to face Argentina on 5 October.
Team USA have less time to pick themselves up though, they’ll be meeting France on 2 October.
Will Hooley also writes for the Bedford Independent and we wish our colleague and friend a speedy recovery.