Left: NZ Rugby Foundation CEO, Lisa Kingi-Bon and VIP No 8, Muir Templeton. Right: Seti Tafua and Frank Bunce
Twenty years ago Wayne Forrest dislocated his neck playing a game of rugby and became a tetraplegic.
Two years later the New Zealand Rugby Foundation stepped into his life.
The Rugby Foundation’s role is to give financial and emotional support to catastrophically injured players. It also advocates for them and is involved in developing programmes to prevent injuries on the playing field.
The Foundation works alongside 102 V.I.Ps or Very Injured Players in New Zealand.
Wayne says words cannot express the difference the Foundation has made to his life.
“You know I’ve said ‘thank you’ enough times but it still doesn’t seem enough. I’ve been extremely lucky.”
The Rugby Foundation has provided funding for him to go with a charity to the UK where he took part in courses to learn water skiing and sailing and went camping on the moors.
“That was probably a bit turning point for me. I realised then that, with a bit of support, anything is quite possible.”
The Rugby Foundation has also helped him fund sports equipment, modifications for his home and has arranged weekends away to sporting events away with other V.I.Ps.
He says those weekend are invaluable for connecting with others in a similar situation and provide opportunities for newly injured players to talk with, and get tips from older players.
The Foundation also funds education for spinal injured players and supports their families immediately after the injury.
It receives $300,000 funding each year from the New Zealand Rugby Union and holds fundraising events so it can support its players.