Ospreys make pre-season visit to Headley Court

Ospreys players, coaches and management took some time out from their preparations for the new season to make a special visit to the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre at Headley Court

The facility in Surrey is used for the rehabilitation of injured services personnel with upwards of 200 members of the UK forces receiving treatment at any one time. There are 96 inpatient beds for the most serious cases, including limb loss, brain and spine injury or a combination of both. These patients can spend up to nine months receiving treatment at Headley Court.

As part of their visit, the senior Ospreys squad spent time touring the facility to meet with injured service men and women, taking time to get to know the patients who have been injured in the line of duty serving their country.

It proved to be an emotional day for the group as they heard inspirational tales of recovery and were moved by stories and recollections of conflict, getting a better understanding of the every day challenges faced by those treated at Headley Court as they rebuild their careers and their lives.

Players also took part in a wheelchair rugby session, where they were taught one or two lessons about the combative nature of the injured service personnel.

Rugby Operations Manager, Andy Lloyd, said that the visit had left the group with memories that will stay with them for a lifetime.

“We are extremely grateful to everyone at Headley Court for the welcome we received. As a group, we are incredibly fortunate to have been able to spend time in such an inspirational environment.

“There’s no doubt that the visit made a lasting impression. To spend time with service personnel who have gone through so much personally yet maintain such an upbeat and positive outlook really does hit home.

“In many ways rugby players lead a privileged life so it’s good to take them out of their comfort zone and put them into an environment where they have to think about the lives of others, and what people have to go through every day.

“It was tough at times, not just for the younger players but for the wider group as a whole. Listening to some of the tales from the injured soldiers was very emotional, but what struck everybody was how positive individuals were about their particular circumstances and their futures, regardless of what their experiences were.

“Servicemen and women put their lives on the line every time they go to work and that fact, combined with the harsh realities we faced at Headley Court, certainly puts the trials and tribulations of rugby life into perspective.”

Major Stacy McQueeney, Executive Officer at Headley Court, thanked the Ospreys players for making the visit, saying:

“The visit went really well and both the staff and patients were thrilled to meet the whole Ospreys team. 

“The comparison between professional athletes and the professional soldiers (the British military) is very similar and often this is closer still with rugby professionals.  This is probably to do with the ‘putting yourself on the line’ and the banter throughout the day was testament to that. 

“In essence, the injured personnel got to meet some of their idols and the impact upon them should no be lost. The players showed by their presence that they support the role that the military do and understand the sacrifices that we make.  In addition, the players also displayed great professionalism and a humble nature, which inspires those injured to focus on the future and remember that if you apply yourself you can achieve great things.”