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Tigers' Gough 'unlikely to walk again', says mum


Gough at Franklin's
Gough made his first appearance for Leicester Tigers in the Premiership Cup last year

“Since he was two or three, whatever task you gave him, in whatever sport, even if it took him it all day, he would be out there until he cracked it. He would never give in.”

That quote, from Kerry Gough, mother of Leicester Tigers player Taylor, seems to sum him up.

His Tigers team-mate and England fly-half George Ford described him as “tough”, while his academy manager at Leicester said he is a “warrior”.

Now he faces the hardest battle of his life, after a serious road collision left him unable to move his legs.

Kerry has told BBC Radio Leicester it is “highly likely” he will not walk again, but the only thing that “keeps her going”, she says, is the hope that one day he will maybe run out at Welford Road in the Premiership.

The 20-year-old back-rower suffered multiple injuries, including severe spinal injuries, on the weekend before the club was set to return to training after three months away because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is where they expected him to break through into the first team,” said Kerry. “This was going to be the start of big things for Taylor.”

He has made one appearance for Leicester, in the Premiership Cup last year. He signed his first senior contract in February, having graduated from the famous Tigers academy.

“Taylor loves the sport, he epitomises the club values,” said Dave Wilks, head of Leicester’s academy. “He’s a local lad who loves playing and loves training.”

Family
Gough was part of a successful Tigers academy side that has won three under-18 titles in a row

Wilks added: “He’s a warrior. He doesn’t give up on anything.”

The story has echoes of the experience of fellow Tigers player Matt Hampson, who was left paralysed from the neck down after an accident during a training session in 2005.

His charity, the Matt Hampson Foundation, has already been in touch with the Gough family to offer his support from their base in nearby Melton Mowbray, as have Leicester Tigers themselves.

“It is a tragic situation, it obviously brings back a lot of memories about what happened to me,” said Hampson.

“We will be able to offer mentoring and support, amazing rehab and physiotherapy, and a personal trainer.

“If you are unfortunate enough to have an injury like Taylor has had, and I had, the best place to be is being a Leicester Tigers player. They are a true family.”

Kerry added that Geordan Murphy, the club’s director of rugby, has rung her “every day”, and they are able to use chairman Peter Tom’s driver to take them to and from hospital, on the rare occasions they can see him because of coronavirus restrictions.

A fundraising page to set up a future life for Taylor has now received more than £20,000 from supporters of all clubs.

Young Taylor
Taylor started playing rugby when he was 14, and progressed through the Tigers academy

She said the incident has left her and Taylor’s family “shattered into a million pieces, literally broken”.

“I cannot tell you how hard it’s been from the minute I took that call,” she continued.

After several moments where doctors were unsure if he would survive, Taylor is now sitting up and soon, Kerry says, will be breathing for himself.

“We’re just thankful he’s actually alive. We’re very thankful that he’s got his brain – he’s still Taylor,” she said.

“We’re just trying to take the positives.

“When they said he could have five minutes off the ventilator to wean it in, he was asking for 15 minutes. Then they said he could do an hour, and he was doing two.

“Every single step of the way, he’s pushing himself. He wants to do more and more, just like he was at his rugby.”





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