Pieter-Steph du Toit. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES/ESA ALEXANDER
Pieter-Steph du Toit. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES/ESA ALEXANDER

World Rugby Player of the Year Pieter-Steph du Toit came close to having a leg amputated after a freak Super Rugby injury, medical staff at his Cape Town club told AFP on Tuesday.

The Rugby World Cup-winning Springbok and Stormers loose forward limped off with what initially seemed a minor leg knock in a match against the Blues in February. But the blow to his leg soon turned into a medical emergency, a Stormers’ medical staff member told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“Pieter-Steph suffered a haematoma, which is a solid swelling of clotted blood within the tissue and is a very rare occurrence,” he said. “It quickly transformed into an acute compartment syndrome, a condition that occurs when pressure within the muscles soars to dangerous levels.

“This pressure may decrease blood flow, preventing nourishment and oxygen from reaching nerve and muscle cells. If the medical staff do not quickly realise the seriousness of the injury, the patient loses blood supply to the leg and it may have to be amputated.”

Du Toit was rushed to hospital, had an operation the same day, and the two-time SA rugby player of the year is expected to play again in about three months.

An SA radio station quoted Stormers coach John Dobson as hailing club doctor Jason Suter for his swift action. “The doctor deserves huge credit for his quick and accurate assessment of the injury sustained by Pieter-Steph,” he said. “Without his timely intervention, I think Pieter-Steph could have lost his leg — almost half the reported cases of acute compartment syndrome have resulted in amputations.”

An injury curse has struck the Stormers this season with Du Toit joining fellow Springboks Herschel Jantjies, Steven Kitshoff, Bongi Mbonambi and Siya Kolisi on the casualty list.

Loose forward Kolisi (knee) and hooker Mbonambi (hamstring) were sidelined during the opening-round triumph over the Hurricanes. Scrumhalf Jantjies fractured a leg between the knee and ankle and prop Kitshoff tore a rib muscle during a loss to the Sharks last Saturday.

Super Rugby, which involves clubs from Argentina, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and SA, was suspended after round seven last weekend because of the coronavirus pandemic. Andy Marinos, the CEO of the competition organisers Sanzaar, has said that if matches cannot resume within five weeks, the season could be cancelled.

A possible solution will be for Australia (including the Japanese Sunwolves), New Zealand and SA (including the Argentinian Jaguares) to stage local derbies. 


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