A WOMAN rugby player was in hospital with severe spinal injuries yesterday after a scrum collapsed on her.
It is the most serious accident since women's rugby took off in Britain three years ago and raises fresh questions about the safety of one of the fastest-growing women's sports in the country. The 20-year-old student from Portsmouth University women's team was injured during a home match against Worthing Ladies on Sunday.
The game was abandoned when players realised that the woman was badly injured. She was taken to the Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth, then flown in a coastguard helicopter to the Odstock Spinal Injuries Unit in Salisbury.
A spokesman for Portsmouth University said: ``She was trapped underneath the scrum and it became apparent she had been badly hurt.''
Yesterday the woman's condition was said to be stable. The university spokesman said that the player's neck was injured but not thought to be broken and another bone had fractured.
The accident has revived controversy over the spread of women's rugby, the popularity of which was boosted by England's win in the world rugby union championship for women, held in Edinburgh in April.
Jeff Probyn, the former England international who recently caused a furore when he said that the game was too physical for women, said yesterday: ``I'm not sexist but it's confirmed the fear that I voiced that at some point a woman would get injured. The more people that play, the less technically competent they are and the more likely to be injured.''
Copyright (C) The Times, 1994
"Woman badly hurt in rugby match; Portsmouth University." Times [London, England] 22 Nov. 1994