20 years on: The darkest day in Welsh rugby

Gwyn Jones (Getty)
Gwyn Jones (Getty)

Cape Town - Wednesday marks the 20-year anniversary of what was undoubtedly one of the darkest days in Welsh rugby history.

On December 13, 1997 a highly-anticipated club match between Cardiff and Swansea at Cardiff Arms Park ended in tragedy. 

FULL STORY: Welsh rugby's darkest day, 20 years on

In the 13th minute of the match, Wales captain and Cardiff flank Gwyn Jones suffered a career-ending spinal chord injury that came extremely close to paralysing him. 

Jones had been contesting for the ball at a ruck and was cleaned out from two different directions, the Wales Online website reports. It left him lying face down in the turf and motionless, and as his body was stretchered off the field there was a deathly silence that fell over the stadium. 

Jones would go on to recover from the injury, eventually able to walk again after months of rehabilitation, but his rugby career was over at 25 and after just 13 Tests. 

As if that wasn't bad enough, tragedy struck once more later in the match. 

Swansea hooker Garin Jenkins, on his way to take a lineout, heard his mother crying from the stands. Knowing that something was seriously wrong, Jenkins launched himself over the advertising boards and into the crowd. 

His father, Eirvil, had sustained a heart attack. 

Reports say his heart at stopped twice, and while he was resuscitated at the ground and transported to hospital, he would die the following year as a result of the complications. 

The match, somehow, went ahead and John Plumtree's Swansea won 33-21. 

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