- Fylde Scrum Half Greg Nicholls resuscitates woman
- Nicholls balances life as a doctor with rugby career
Fylde’s 1st XV had plenty on their minds as they began their journey from Preston station to London to face National League 1 leaders Richmond on 9 January. Several close defeats this season, including a one point loss to Hartpury College the week before, had left both players and coaches eager to begin 2016 afresh.
For scrum half and doctor Greg Nicholls however, all thoughts on the game quickly disappeared when train staff alerted the team to a woman who had collapsed and was unresponsive on the platform.
Nicholls and the club’s two physiotherapists, Greg Littler and Megan Stuart, rushed over to the woman and began emergency CPR to try and establish a pulse. “Luckily there was a defibrillator at the station and our medical team always carry an oxygen supply, which was crucial,” recalls Nicholls who is a surgeon at Lancaster Hospital. “Both Greg and Megan have been through training to deal with these situations so we all worked work together to treat her.”
Nicholls was able to establish a pulse and kept the woman alive until paramedics arrived at the station to take her to hospital. He then managed to get the next train to Euston and, perhaps most impressively, played in the match that afternoon with Fylde losing 22-21 in another close defeat.
“There was a sense of euphoria amongst the team when Greg joined them and heard what he had done,” says team manager Ian Cosh. “It had been a shock for all of us to see but knowing Greg and the physios had given her a chance helped galvanise the squad.”
Unfortunately the team were informed a few days later that the woman had passed away. “Her family were really grateful for what we had done as it gave them a chance to see her,” says Nicholls.
According to head coach and player Paul Arnold, Nicholls’ actions at the station are testament to his character. “He’s someone who has balanced a medical career with being a professional player and now often trains and plays for us having just finished a shift at the hospital, he’s an ideal role model for any up and coming player.”
For Nicholls, balancing a medical career with playing rugby is something he is used to. While growing up on the Fylde Coast he played for Sale Academy and England U19 before beginning his degree at Bristol University. He played for five seasons in the Premiership, gaining 80 first team appearances before playing for London Welsh and Plymouth Albion while completing his studies.
He is now back with his childhood club while working as an orthopaedic surgeon. Nicholls says maintaining the balance can be tricky and carefully planning his schedule is key to making it work. “It definitely takes quite a bit of organising. Luckily for me the club have been very accommodating to my schedule at the hospital and are understanding whenever I can’t make a training session or match.”
Having successfully done it himself, Nicholls is a proponent of younger players not sacrificing an education when pursuing their rugby careers. He cites England’s new call-up Josh Beaumont as an example of a player who didn’t go down the ‘traditional’ route when turning professional.
“Josh is a great example of someone who has balanced an education with a career really well,” says Nicholls. “He did his degree at Durham University before joining Sale Academy and now he’s playing at the highest level. It gets harder to find that balance as the sport becomes more professional each year but it’s a good idea to have something to fall back on after rugby.”
So what next for Fylde’s scrum half and doctor? “I’m settled back here in Fylde and enjoying playing for them so I see myself here for a while. I want to continue to progress as a surgeon and at the club it’s important to me that we build some consistency over the rest of the season and turn these close defeats into victories.”
With Fylde RFC needing a bit of inspiration to transform an inconsistent campaign, the incredible actions of their own scrum half may be just the thing to turn their season around.
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