Scotland wing Darcy Graham’s new contract is the perfect way to round off a nightmare few months now that his brother Clark is recovering from a near-fatal car crash.
The 17-year-old returned to the family home in Hawick at the weekend after five months in hospital recovering from life-threatening injuries from a car crash in January. Clark was in a coma for three and a half weeks right at the time his big brother was expected to be preparing to play for Scotland in the Six Nations.
But doctors have been stunned by the way Clark has recovered so quickly and Darcy admits to having been inspired by the way his brother has battled back.
‘It was so great to get him home’
“It’s been one of the worst times of my life; it’s been bloody awful,” said Graham, who has signed a new deal at Edinburgh thought to keep him with the capital club for three more years.
“But he is doing well, his recovery has been good and it was so great to get him home. His balance is still a wee bit off and his speech is a bit slower, but it will all come back.
“He was at the Astley Ainsley in Edinburgh (where they specialise in brain injuries) and they’ve done just an amazing job.
“After the injuries he had, the way he’s come in four and a half months … my shoulder rehab is going to take four months, so I reckon to come back from a brain injury in that time is unbelievable.”
‘I was very close to not even going in’
Unsurprisingly Darcy’s focus wasn’t quite on the Six Nations. He was expected to play a big part in for Scotland, but he steeled himself to push on.
“In the Six Nations I was very close to not even going in,” he admitted. “The only reason I went in was to give mum and dad something to look forward to.
“Clark was in a coma for three and a half weeks, and we just didn’t know if he was going to make it. He got infections, and there was just one thing after another. You’d get one positive thing then something negative would come up.
“He was out of the worst by the time the Six Nations started, but the England game was a week too early for me.
“Gregor offered me the chance to go down and be 24th man. It was an unbelievable win down there, so I’m glad I went down and experienced that.”
‘I was just crying away in the dressing room’
Darcy was recalled for the game against Wales, and that was an emotional experience.
“I was the last one out and I always listen to the same song before going out,” he said. “I was just crying away in the changing room thinking of Clark. But then I just flipped the switch and got focus, and out I went to warm up.”
He’d promised Clark the night before that he would score a try for him, and of course he did.
“He couldn’t speak then, but we face-timed him every night,” he said. “I promised him I’d score a try for him, and it was just as well I did.”
What happened that snowy night just outside Hawick – Clark was driving with friends to Galashiels – and since has given the big brother some perspective.
‘I’ll always look up to him now’
“He’s still just 17. To go through what he’s gone through – he’s unbelievable, and I’ll always look up to him now,” he continued.
“He probably shouldn’t be here. That’s the hardest part to think about. He had somebody looking over him that day.
“It was very difficult time because of Covid. Myself, my brother and my sister weren’t allowed in to see him, only my mum. I hadn’t actually seen him for four months until he got home, and that was the best feeling ever.
“The hospitals have done an amazing job – Astley Ainslie, the Royal and the Borders General, and the fire service as well. I can’t thank them enough, because – if it wasn’t for them – he wouldn’t be here.”
In the meantime, Darcy probably won’t tour with Scotland to Georgia and Romania this summer as he attempts to rehab his shoulder injury and get back to his best form.
‘The summer tour would be pushing it’
Darcy is 𝙃𝙀𝙍𝙀 𝙏𝙊 𝙎𝙏𝘼𝙔 and these highlights of the 👑 of Hawick have got us hyped! pic.twitter.com/P1lzUEY4wP
— Edinburgh Rugby (@EdinburghRugby) May 20, 2021
“We sat down and discussed it,” he said. “We’re not going to push for Edinburgh games and potentially not for the summer tour either.
“It’s just about getting time to sit back. I’ve had a few niggles over the past year that really held me back. I want to get a full pre-season under my belt and come out firing for next season.
“The recovery has gone really well so far, pretty plain sailing, so I think summer tour would be pushing it.”
As for staying in Scotland, that was always a no-doubter.
“If something else came up, I would’ve thought about it, but I never really looked elsewhere,” he admitted. “I’m quite happy at Edinburgh, especially with the new ground, which looks amazing.
“I can’t wait to see the fans back and the new signings we have made. Hopefully we will have a real attacking mindset next season and play some rugby, especially on this new fast pitch.”