Millions shocked as ‘toughest rugby player ever’ reflects on wince-worthy injury he played through

You’ve heard of Jamie Roberts playing on with a fractured skull and Richie McCaw appearing in a World Cup with a broken foot, but ‘Buck’ Shelford’s story will be right up there with rugby’s most courageous moments.

Wayne ‘Buck’ Shelford was a former All Black captain, whose harrowing story from 1986 has been given a new lease on TikTok.

Originally posted last year on the All Blacks’ TikTok account, Rugby Joe have re-uploaded his particular clip in recent weeks and it has been drawing attention from rugby fans around the globe. Across the two accounts, the video has amassed more than 6.7 million views amid a title of ‘Is this the toughest man to play rugby?’ The game in question was infamously dubbed ‘The Battle of Nantes’, where France’s brutality paid dividends against New Zealand, with Les Bleus winning 16-3.

In the video, Buck explains that he got booted in the face at the bottom of a ruck, losing three of his teeth in the process. “I just carried on and got on with the game.” says Shelford.

But it was to get even worse. Shelford goes on to explain that he got “kicked in the nuts”, and despite the intense pain he carried on playing. It wasn’t until the towering number eight reached the changing rooms that he found out just how horrifying his injury was.

“I ripped my gear off, pulled my strides down, and one of the guys from across the room said ‘heck, look at that!’ One of my testicles had been ripped right out of the scrotum. It was hanging between my legs. These sort of things do happen, you’ve just got to play on.”

Ouch. If you say so Buck, if you say so. It is no wonder this clip has done the rounds on TikTok, it is undoubtedly one of the most shocking stories to come from a player. Buck’s injury, coupled with the bloodthirsty ‘Battle of Nantes’, makes for a breath-taking tale.


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