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The Blue & Gray Press | November 18, 2017

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Out Cold

STEPHANIE BREIJO

A University of Mary Washington sophomore was airlifted to the INOVA Regional Trauma Center in Fairfax, Va. after sustaining a severe concussion during a homecoming rugby game.
The last thing that 20-year-old Blake Murray can remember before losing consciousness Saturday is the shock of head-to-head impact with a member of the opposing team.
“I went in for a tackle and what I think happened is both of our heads collided at the same time,” he said. “I was even wearing a scrum cap, which is like a very thin helmet, and I still got knocked
unconscious.”
The rugby player from Millersville, Penn. is in good condition, sustaining no severe injuries.
“I talked to some of the other guys on his team,” Murray said. “He just got a bump on his head. I guess my angle was just unlucky or maybe he hit a thicker part of his head, I’m not sure.”
The injury occurred Saturday afternoon in the first half of the game against Millersville’s rugby team.
Guy Prudhomme, UMW’s rugby coach, was out of the country during Saturday’s game and was unavailable for comment in China.
When Murray was unresponsive on the UMW rugby field, he began seizing. Doctors later told him that the seizures were only his body’s reaction to being unconscious.
“Because rugby is fast paced and a lot of stuff happens, you’re not always sure what’s going on,” said team mate Joey Merkel. “All of a sudden, Blake was on the ground and he started seizing. It was pretty
scary. Everyone had to scream at the ref to stop the play and we were all told to take a step back.”
According to Director of Campus Recreation Mark Mermelstein, each UMW club sport is required to have an attendee at all games and practices that is actively certified by the American Red Cross or the American
Heart Association.
The captain of the UMW Mother’s club rugby team, Kyle Yolles, was the CPR-and-First-Aid-certified attendee on Saturday and utilized his credentials to help Murray.
“The only thing you can do is get anything out of his mouth, which is what we did,” said Yolles. “When he regained consciousness, we helped him off the field.”
After medical assistance arrived on the scene and surveyed Murray’s injuries, medics decided that he needed further treatment and chose to airlift him to the trauma center nearest his house, according to Chief
of Police James Snipes.
“They picked him up and it looked like he had no energy left,” said Merkel. “They cleared everyone off of the field. During the second half, they told everyone to get off the bleachers so they could land
the helicopter in the middle of the track field.”
Murray recalls a different view of the situation.
“I looked up and saw two medics over me,” said Murray. “We made record speed – 14 minutes – to get the hospital and my mom, dad and girlfriend met me there. I only spent one night there. I was back in my house the next day to watch the Redskins game, so it wasn’t too bad.”
Saturday’s head trauma marked Murray’s second concussion. In his senior year of high school, Murray was knocked unconscious when a friend crashed their car into a tree.
Although Murray’s CAT scan results were normal, doctors told him that because head traumas are cumulative, they have greater cause to be concerned for his rugby involvement in light of his past injury.
But Murray is thinking positively about his future in UMW sports.
“If the doc says another injury wouldn’t leave me incapacitated, I’d love to play in the playoffs sometime in January,” said Murray. “For now, I’m just waiting for the doctor’s word.”
With only two weeks remaining in the men’s rugby season, Murray will be spending his time recuperating, not playing.
“I won’t be on the team but I’ll definitely be at practice supporting them,” he said. “I’m just grateful to be here.”