James Elliot’s missing cheek bone

Semi final match Between Frenchille Pioneers and Dawson Valley Drovers at Rugby Park Rockhampton. I was then aged 26 years old.

Before the game we had a normal prep – It was the Semi final, so we had good systems in place. Were the reigning champs from the year before, so we knew what we were doing and how to prepare correctly. This day we had a good warm-up and went through basic skills etc. I had no prior injury before this incident, and was fit and healthy.

I was a member of the Rockhampton & District Rep rugby team, and many of the players in the match were also in this match. The contest was pretty brutal as the Drovers team are all country boys from farms and mines, and love the physical side of rugby

male rugby player cartoon


Position: Fullback
Club: Frenchville Pioneers
Injury: Broken Ankle

How It Happened

The incident happened first half close to half time. I ran the ball between the centres with one grasping my jersey holding me back, I then performed a slingshot as he let go and dove head first into the covering flanker’s knee. He was 188cm, 110kg Qld Country flanker… he won the collision since i was a 78kg fullback airborne and exposed face first.

My teammates were shocked when they saw my cheekbone was “missing” and there was blood all over my face and jersey. I left field, saw team doctor and was keen to get back on until he asked me where my cheekbone was. After i felt around my face, i located it above my temple and there was a hole where it should have been.

Team won by 3.

Hospital treatment

I had what’s called a fractured zygoma on right side of my face. I needed surgery to have everything placed back in the appropriate places and to make my cheek look normal again.

I know my body and am a PE teacher, so I took the 2 weeks to rest before the Grand final. During the grand final I wore headgear and corn pads on my cheek, trying not to get tackled or make tackles on that side of my face. We lost the GF by 2 points. I told my Doc i wasn’t going to play unless 100% confident, and told my coach I was “good to go”, since I was the goal kicker.

I am still playing rugby now in HK at 42yrs old.


The injury has affected me throughout my life in a few small ways. It is often difficult to breathe and cigarette smoke really affects my sinus cavity. The smoke causes some issues with my right side of my sinus, leading to headaches and often migraines if there is a lot of cigarette smoke around. I do not regret continuing to play after the injury, and rugby is a part of who I am. I am a coach, player and referee here in Hong Kong, and i do take a little more safety precautions when talking about running lines and people coming across in cover defense due to my experience.

By James Elliot

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