In April 2017, Ed Jackson the former Dragons, London Welsh and Wasps forward, broke his neck diving into a swimming pool leaving him paralysed from the shoulders down and ending his professional rugby career. He was told he would not walk again.
Since then, thousands across the rugby world have followed and been inspired by Ed’s remarkable and courageous journey of recovery from dark days in intensive care to walking again and most recently climbing Mount Snowdon to raise money for the charities that have supported his recovery – including Restart Rugby, the charity of the Rugby Players’ Association.
Last month, the Guinness PRO14 paid tribute to Ed’s inspirational bravery and determination to recover from his serious spinal injury with the presentation of the PRO14 Chairman’s Award by Gerald Davies CBE, who commended him for his terrific spirit in the face of adversity.
Now the former Dragons is involved in professional rugby again albeit with a TV mic in hand now - and he will make his Premier Sports debut giving expert insight into Dragons versus Southern Kings on Saturday (kick off 3pm).
He said: “It’s really great just to be actively involved in professional rugby again. Getting my independence back and walking has been a huge landmark and now to be back connected in rugby and with the energy around live match days in the PRO14 is exciting. I’m really looking forward to this opportunity with Premier Sports. They’ve got a great team of commentators together who are really experienced, so just hoping I can add to that!
“After the accident I wasn’t initially sure how I was going to react when I watched rugby, I thought it may have been too painful knowing I could never be on the pitch again, too hard to watch and that I may want to distance myself from the game.
“But actually throughout my recovery, I realised it was something that helped me focus and recover mentally. It’s funny not being a pro player anymore - I’ve become a TV rugby fan and enjoy seeing the game from another perspective! It’s on all the time in our house which probably isn’t great for my wife Lois – but it’s really important to me to be involved in the game, so to be offered commentary work is something I’m very excited about.”
Ed has also been coaching in schools and with women’s rugby teams to stay involved in the game he loves and which allows him the flexibility of time between his intensive rehabilitation schedule of 3 to 4 hours of gym work, yoga, walking a day plus the awe-inspiring schedule of challenges he has set himself in the past 18 months to fund-raise.
Jackson, who married his partner Lois Rideout, a former Celtic Dragons netballer and now a coach at Team Bath, this summer - says having long-term goals is critical in keeping your recovery going.
“As a player you learn how to deal with long rehab times from injury because mentally you always have a target game for your return which you can focus on. For me, it’s been really important both mentally and physically to still have targets to reach – a focus point - to train towards and to take on things which really challenge me.
"It's a very long process recovering from a spinal injury - you keep recovering for five or six years, but the pace slows down.
“I live near Bath now and so coming to Dragons games in Newport is easy for me. I’ve got lot of good friends at the Region and in Welsh rugby so it will be great to be back at Rodney Parade this weekend - the crowds there have always been amazing and supportive so really looking forward to seeing everyone again on Saturday afternoon.
“They have a promising squad this season who can produce the goods and I hope we see a turnaround starting at home this weekend which is a must-win for them. There’s a lot of potential at the Dragons and let’s hope they’ll start to show that with good results in coming weeks.”
And it’s still all go for Ed as the following day (Sunday 9thSeptember) he leaves for France to climb Mont Buet in Switzerland, which at 10,000 ft, is three times the height of Snowdon.
Ed Jackson is part of the Premier Sports team for its live coverage of Dragons v Southern Kings (kick off 3pm) in the Guinness PRO14 and is joined by Gethin Jones, Rhys ap William and Tom Shanklin.
Premier Sports, is the home of the Guinness PRO14 in the UK and will be showing all 152 games from the Guinness PRO14 this season. Rugby fans can subscribe on Sky or the Premier Sports Player for £9.99 per month with the first month free. Visit www.premiersports.com to sign up to see all the live action. Customers on other TV services should contact their operator.
To hear more about Ed’s amazing story and fund-raising please visit https://edjackson8.com