A NORTH Berwick rugby player suffered a fractured neck in a game in Hawick on Saturday – almost 12 years on from a life-changing injury to former club captain Jonny Mitchell.

Craig Simpson was playing in the back row for the club’s 1st XV away to Hawick Harlequins in East 1 when he sustained the injury.

Craig was treated on the pitch before making the half-hour journey by ambulance to Borders General Hospital, accompanied by friend and team-mate Angus Elder.

He told the Courier how the injury happened, saying: “I just injured my neck carrying the ball into contact after my head was driven into the ground.”

The Dirleton resident also outlined the severity of his condition, adding: “Scans show I have a fracture in my neck; however, I’m still waiting further medical advice.”

A former pupil of North Berwick High School, Craig said he was lucky to have escaped serious injury after being discharged on Sunday.

The 22-year-old said: “I’ve been told by medics I was pretty lucky.”

He went on to thank staff at the hospital and at the club for their support.

“The doctors praised the work of club president Iain Dove and club physio Leah Boudreau for their assistance immediately after the incident on the pitch and I am very grateful for all their help,” he added.

Craig, who is expected to make a full recovery, also thanked players and members at Hawick Harlequins for their well-wishes.

The incident took place almost exactly 12 years to the day after former North Berwick RFC captain Jonny Mitchell was left paralysed from the neck down after a collapsed scrum, also in Hawick.

Mitchell was North Berwick’s hooker against Hawick Linden when a scrum collapsed and he dislocated two vertebrae in his neck and damaged his spinal cord.

And while Craig was quick to point out his injury was nowhere near as serious, he was aware that the incidents happened in the same town.

He did not know, though, that Saturday’s match was one day off the 12th anniversary of Mitchell’s life-changing accident.

Iain Dove, North Berwick RFC president, told the Courier: “Any and every injury is a concern for all of the team, indeed for everyone involved in rugby, but for North Berwick this happening in Hawick did bring back difficult memories for some.”

He was, however, pleased that Craig was recovering and added: “We hope to see him at the club again soon.

“Thanks to all who helped on the day, especially the ambulance crew and the hospital, and to those who have been in contact since to pass on their best wishes.”