Braxton Smith’s diagonal split fibula

Touch, it was in a warm-up game of touch that granted me my worst rugby injury by far. We were gearing up for our then rival San Antonio and had finally managed to get enough numbers out for playing time to be very competitive. We usually warmed up at practice with touch to get our hands and minds focused.

I’m by no means a speed demon or even that quick for anything more than a short burst. But I had managed to break the line and was tearing down the field on the wing gunning for the try line, the side line of a pop warner practice field. This field is mounded to keep the rain from pooling. So basically the middle of the field is the high point and the try lines are the low points. Anyway, I’m bearing down on the try line and the only man within my reach is the guy just below me on the roster, coincidentally.

male rugby player cartoon


Position: Tighthead Prop
Club: San Marcos Greys
Injury: Diagonal Split Fibula

Then It Happened

He wasn’t close enough to stop my inevitable charge into the end zone, but he was there in time to attempt to prevent a touchdown of the ball. This is where the collision and the cause of this grievous injury happened. With my foot planted firmly on this sloping ground and a man taller than 6’3″ and heavier than 300 pounds attempting to occupy the same physical space as I was currently residing, something had to give. Well my ankle took lead role in this play and rolled inward allowing my foot to be perpendicular to its normal location.

Hard To Stand

This resulted in an immediate and loud crack from the affected region and made standing dramatically less easy. My caring and considerate teammates demanded the ball back and drug me out of the try zone. Fortunately for me this try zone was opposite of where we parked our cars. So as touch continued to be played, I studied on how to make this pain subside. Once I managed to collect my thoughts the next Herculean task was to traverse the sidelines and make it to my car.

The Long Crawl

Mustering the totality of my manliness I crawled to my feet and began the process of seeing how fast and in what way I could walk all the way to my GD car. I was able to feel out a method that allowed me to limp closer to my car at about the same speed as as old people f*cking. By the grace of god one of our eight men had fractured his arm the last practice, also during a festive touch match, and his mother was there watching us practice. Now Mama C is by far the best and coolest rugby mom out there, always down to share a beer and cheer on the best team in central Texas. Well she was nice enough to notice me struggling to my car. She is by no means half my size but she was able to help me enough to get back to my car.

Driving Home

Here’s the fun part, it was my right ankle that gave out and so the drive home was a bit jumpy as I have not practiced using my left foot to drive very much. Being an off the books construction worker at the time my health insurance coverage was somewhat sparse, but one of the guys was able to provide me with a boot. The odd thing about this sprain however, was how much the middle of my shin hurt every time I picked up my leg. I managed to convince a friends step-mom, who was a podiatrist, to x-ray my ankle. Lo and behold zero fractures in the foot and ankle area, good news because an inversion ankle sprain that causes a fracture in the ankle usually means ligament damage and a long recovery.

Self Diagnosis

The bad news is that she was not as eager to have me lay awkwardly on my side and x-ray that part of my leg that hurt like hell. Well it’s probably just bruised I told myself. It was not just bruised. As a dude in his late twenties with very little financial savvy I was living hand to mouth mostly and still had to work my 50+ hour/week construction job with this borrowed boot on. This motivated me to actually get insurance and get a proper x-ray.

Informed Diagnosis

The x-ray confirmed my suspicion that the audible crack was not from my ankle. The doctor came in with the scan and there it was a diagonal split right in the middle of my fibula. Our combined size had caused me to sprain my ankle so hard I broke my leg. There is a medical term that I have since forgotten, but I know this type of break has a name. By now the bone was healing and the doctor said it was a clean break and my borrowed boot had allowed it to grow back together mostly the way it should. He wrote me a script for physical therapy but nothing for the “pain.”

Returning To Rugby

After about three months I was right as rain and back on the pitch. The time in the boot did make my legs a little asymmetrical and made playing a full 80 a little harder but I could run again. And the Greys have been cleaning up in central Texas and making the playoffs ever since.


The End

By Braxton Smith

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