‘I feared I would never play again!’: Sale forward Josh Beaumont buzzing to be back in action after 14-month injury nightmare following freak accident during 2019 clash against Wasp
- Sale forward returned to action on Saturday after an injury nightmare
- He scored the late try which halted Sale’s run of three successive defeats
- Beaumont was injured in a freak accident during a game against Wasps in 2019
After three knee operations and 14 months out of action, Josh Beaumont had every right to his modest outbreak of match-winner’s euphoria at Kingsholm.
The 28-year-old Sale forward had been injured in a freak accident during a game against Wasps in November 2019, when he fell at a lineout and ruptured a patella tendon.
He had surgery but it later emerged that the knee had become infected, so he had another procedure, only for the rehab phase to be interrupted by the pandemic and the enforced suspension of the season.
Sale forward Josh Beaumont returned to action on Saturday after an injury nightmare
Beaumont came through the home training phase and strove for a summer comeback but even basic exercise proved painful and he had doubts about whether he would ever play again.
After another operation to clear out scar tissue, at last there was progress. He missed the end of last season but finally returned as a replacement at Gloucester last Saturday.
Making it on to the field again was a triumph in itself but it turned into a fairytale script as he scored the late try which halted Sale’s run of three successive defeats since Steve Diamond abruptly left his post as director of rugby.
No wonder Beaumont allowed himself a tiny celebration.
The 28-year-old was injured in a freak accident during a game against Wasps in 2019
‘I’d really missed that buzz you get after a win,’ he said. ‘It was quite a pressurised situation to come into so I couldn’t let the team down which meant there were nerves but also a lot of excitement about getting back in the mix and trying to make a difference. At the final whistle, you could see the emotion. I never really celebrate but I gave it a little fist-pump on Saturday! It was just the relief.’
It had been a long, slow, stop-start recovery process. Beaumont encountered so many hold-ups along the way that he inevitably began to question whether it would all work out. The lowest ebb came last summer when he was trying to return to full training only for his knee to protest.
Asked if he ever feared he would not return, he said: ‘It definitely did cross my mind — especially just before I had the clear-out operation. I was in pain just doing regular exercise, jogging around.
‘But I was reassured by the physios that after the clear-out, it would be fine. I trusted them. I am glad I stuck at it, believed in myself and believed in the physios.’
Beaumont’s ordeal began when he suffered a ‘high-grade tear’ in the knee, which required a lengthy and complicated operation. Two months later he had more surgery for the infection.
Josh with his father, former England captain and World Rugby chairman, Sir Bill Beaumont
HEIGHT: 6FT 7IN
CLUB: SALE SHARKS
PREMIERSHIP DEBUT: 2013
ENGLAND: 4 NON-TEST MATCHES,
1 TRY (all v Barbarians, 2015-19)
The subsequent rehab was on track until Covid-19 arrived. The most obvious impact on sport was to prevent fixtures being played, but for those on the mend like Beaumont the upshot was being denied vital access to club physios and facilities.
At least he had been a primary beneficiary when the players looted the Sale gym. ‘I was lucky that I was one of the first ones in so I managed to nick quite a lot of equipment, including a Wattbike,’ he said. ‘I’d just moved house so I had a spare room. I had a pretty decent home gym set-up. It was good for the first four weeks then the novelty wore off!’
Deprived of active involvement in rugby for so long, Beaumont filled his time by completing an MBA course. He soon put his studies into practice by helping his home club, Fylde, with sponsorship strategies and planning.
In that part of Lancashire, his family are sporting royalty. Josh spent the initial post-operation phase back at his parents’ home. His father, former England captain and World Rugby chairman, Sir Bill Beaumont, offered encouragement about his prospects of recovering and the need to do all he could to relaunch his career, having had his own cut short by concussions.
‘He’d been with me for the operations and spoke to the surgeons, so I think he was confident,’ said Beaumont Jnr. ‘He said, “Just understand there might be moments when you question if it’s right to come back”. But he definitely wanted me to keep going. He found it pretty tough when he retired in his late 20s. He understands that once you’re out of it, how hard it can be, so do everything you can to get back.’
Beaumont came back with a bang at Kingsholm and tonight he will aim to maintain his fairy-tale return, when Sale take on Worcester at the AJ Bell Stadium. Much has changed since his last home appearance more than a year ago. The stands will be empty but it certainly won’t be a hollow occasion after such a long absence.
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