Rylan Southwick

Rugby player Rylan Southwick breaks his neck during a tournament; his teammates bleach their hair to show support

A teenage rugby player, Rylan Southwick, breaks his neck, prompting half of his teammates to bleach their hair to match his.

Rylan Southwick, a 17-year-old from Lehi, Utah, has been a passionate rugby player since he was a toddler.

He started playing rugby when his parents introduced him to the sport at the age of 4, although the official age is 6 years.

However, on February 24, Rylan was left with a broken neck after being tackled during a game, as reported by PEOPLE.

Fortunately, the injury did not cause paralysis or cognitive problems; nevertheless, due to the lengthy healing process, he will be unable to play for his club for the remainder of the season.

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Rylan’s father, Benjamin Southwick, remembers the incident as he was watching the match from the sidelines with his wife.

The trainer and team doctor initially assumed that the injury was a pinched nerve, but upon arrival at the hospital, they learned that Rylan had actually broken his neck.

He was airlifted to the Primary Children’s Hospital, where he was forced to stay for four days.

Rylan’s father and teammates are always on guard, as doctors believe that if he gets hit or jarred enough, it is far easier for him to get paralyzed or worse than that.

Rylan Southwick
Picture from Rylan Southwick’s Instagram

Rylan has been wearing a custom-made neck brace since returning from the hospital and receiving constant care from his parents.

Despite the serious injury, he has not undergone any surgery and doctors are observing his condition regularly. Doctors have advised Rylan to wear the neck brace continuously even while sleeping and showering. His dad now hopes Rylan’s neck to heal on its own.

His coach and members of the Herriman High varsity rugby team have visited him at home and gifted him a signed ball. Other rugby teams have also expressed their support for Rylan, both nationally and locally.

In a special tribute to Rylan and to resemble him, more than half members of the varsity rugby team bleached their hair to make him feel like he was still part of the team.

Teammate Logan Reagan told KSL-TV that they wanted every possible way to show him that, even though he’s on the sideline now — probably will be for a lot of the season — we still love him.

One of Rylan’s three siblings, Sydney Wilson, created a GoFundMe page to help pay for her brother’s medical bills and therapy costs.

As of Wednesday, the fundraiser has brought in more than $11,000. Benjamin says that the amount that has come in now is heartwarming, and they feel extremely blessed for the offerings that have been given to them.

Rylan’s family credits the rugby team’s support and their prayers for getting them through the difficult time.

Rylan Southwick
Picture from Rylan Southwick’s GoFundMe

As per Benjamin, the team really made sure that they were treated better than family.

Rylan’s recovery is going to be a slow process and could take up to a year, according to Benjamin.

If his neck heals by then, Rylan could resume playing rugby, if he wants to, in his senior year. “1000%,” Rylan says of his desire to play, “I love the sport, so I’d totally go back to it if I can.”

Maya Bennett