Rugby world rallies behind Williams

Burnley and Pendle Citizen: Wales centre Owen Williams has suffered significant injury to his cervical vertebrae and spinal cord, Cardiff Blues have confirmed Wales centre Owen Williams has suffered significant injury to his cervical vertebrae and spinal cord, Cardiff Blues have confirmed

The rugby world has united behind Wales centre Owen Williams after he suffered "significant injury" to his neck during a tournament in Singapore.

Williams was hurt while playing for Cardiff Blues in the inaugural World Club 10s last weekend.

His parents and brother are at the 22-year-old's bedside in a Singapore hospital, where he underwent an operation two days ago.

Wales captain Sam Warburton has spoken of a "devastated" feeling following Williams' injury, while Warburton and many of his Wales and Blues team-mates have tweeted messages of support.

In a statement, the Blues said: "Cardiff Blues have today (Wednesday, June 25) confirmed that Owen Williams has suffered a significant injury to his cervical vertebrae and spinal cord.

"He underwent an operation on Monday to stabilise a fracture and is currently recovering in hospital in Singapore.

"The family of Owen Williams are now at his bedside, along with senior Blues management and medical staff.

"Arrangements are currently being made to co-ordinate his safe transfer home at an appropriate time.

"Cardiff Blues and the Williams family would like to thank the many hundreds of well-wishers who have offered messages of support.

"Cardiff Blues will be making no further comment, but will continue to share further updates when they are available.

"We would also ask that the privacy of Owen Williams and his family is respected at this time."

Speaking in Cardiff on Wednesday, Wales and Blues flanker Warburton added: "Everyone is devastated.

"The training ground was not a very nice place to be on Monday when we found out. It was horrible because Owen is someone who I have been training with every day for the last four years.

"Physically, he was a specimen and an amazing athlete. We have our fingers crossed, and all the boys have sent personal messages already to his family out in Singapore.

"Hopefully, he knows all of our thoughts are with him."

Reflecting on the incident, which took place during the third and fourth place play-off game between the Blues and Asia Pacific Dragons, Warburton said: "It's scary because it is not like it was a malicious tip-tackle or anything like that.

"It was a freak accident, and as a player it does make you wonder about prioritising the important things in life.

"It does worry you when it comes to playing rugby, but I am sure everyone is going through similar emotions."

Williams has received messages of support on social media from international team-mates like Warburton, Alex Cuthbert, Jamie Roberts, George North, Dan Lydiate, Ken Owens and Josh Turnbull, in addition to Australia back-row star David Pocock.

Gloucester, Bath, Leinster, Munster, Scarlets and Newport Gwent Dragons have also expressed support on Twitter for Williams, in addition to Cardiff City Football Club under the hashtag #StayStrongForOws.

Williams' Blues colleague Macauley Cook, who remained with him in Singapore following the injury last Sunday, said on Twitter: "Landed back in London. Family all at his bedside. Hospital is amazing. He's recovering well from the op Monday.

Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenny tweeted: " Thoughts are with you and your family buddy," and Scotland captain Kelly Brown said on Twitter: "Terribly sad news about Owen Williams badly injuring his neck. Really hope he recovers well."

Williams has won four Wales caps, making his debut during last year's tour to Japan and then scoring a try in a 17-7 Millennium Stadium victory over Tonga seven months ago.

He has also represented Wales at under-20 level and on the international world sevens circuit, while he joined the Blues' senior set-up after progressing through the region's academy system.

His former club Aberdare, meanwhile, have postponed a presentation event that was planned for next Saturday to recognise ex-Aberdare players who achieved international honours.

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