Hi everyone I’m Robert Hewitt I’m 26 and have been playing rugby ever since I could remember. I was aware that serious injuries had happened to people in the past because the competition I was playing in (Thames Valley, for the mighty Waihou team) had unfortunately had prior injuries and the whole competition had tried to do its part and help out. But you would never think in your wildest dreams it could happen to you. On June the 20th 2009 that all changed. It was the big rivalry game in Te Aroha that the whole town comes out of the wood work to watch. I lasted a solid 10 minutes in the curtain raiser when an opposition member picked me up and drove me into the ground head first. I knew I was in trouble as soon as I hit the ground. Nothing I could say or describe would do the rehab and adjustment period justice, unless you have been through it’s hard to understand what people go through.
But without the help and support of the rugby foundation I would have been a whole lot worse. Within the first few days of the injury the foundation had got hold of my parents and offered to help, assist and support them anyway they possibly could. This was a huge relief for me as they were struggling and I couldn’t help out at all. I was moved to the Otara spinal unit in Auckland and the first day I was there Colin, John and Andrew came out and introduced themselves who they are and they were there to assist anyway possible. Just having that support was irreplaceable looking back I don’t think I would have been able to tackle rehab as positive frame of mind as I did. There were unfortunately 3 rugby related injuries while I was rehabbing and the foundation would come visit bring lunch and offer assistance every time they were there, it was fantastic to have people around that genuinely care about your wellbeing.
Three and a half months latter I was released into the wild back to small town Te Aroha but that didn’t stop the foundation from providing support. This involved offering help at home during renovations, helping out and attending Waihou fundraisers for me, constantly asking if there is anything they can help out with. I enjoyed getting emails or phone calls just to have a chat and see how thing are going. Being a rugby mad enthusiast The foundation opened up a few doors in the rugby circles inviting me to All Blacks, Chiefs and Waikato matches, Test match luncheons and allowed me to meet some of my rugby icons in which I enjoyed and would never had the opportunity without the foundation. They also take a team of injured players to the Wellington sevens which is one of the best trips I have ever been on, but what goes on tour at the sevens stays on tour haha. Through these events I have met other people in the same situation that I hope will turn into lifelong friends.
I m a newbie in the injured rugby circles and 10 years down the track I hope I’m still one of the newest members to the club. My life has hit a bit of a cross road. I was studying to become a physical education teacher which has lost its appeal. I’m not sure what I was to do but Andrew has assisted me with looking into some new opportunities fingers crossed they pan out. I’m looking to move to Hamilton to further my independence and hopefully there are more opportunities in the city and will cut down a lot of travel time and expense. My story finishes where it starts I have been introduced and fallen in love with you guessed it wheelchair rugby. I’m new and raw at the sport but enjoying it and if I manage to get any good have aspirations to represent my country. This will not be possible without the support of the rugby foundation as they have assisted in getting me a rugby chair and equipment as the sport is extremely expensive to play. I would like to thank the rugby foundation for everything they had done it has been invaluable.
My only regret is that it took me to get injured to find out about the foundation and all the good they do. Cheers guys will update when things unfold.
NZ Rugby Foundation
Sport Auckland House Level 4, Alexandra Park Function Centre, Gate B, Greenlane Road West, Epsom, Auckland