‘I stopped responding’: Rugby player Ashleigh collapses during game and teammates perform CPR

A rugby player is out for the rest of the season after a tackle forced her teammates to perform CPR on her.

Ashleigh Shephard, 25, who plays for the Darlington women’s rugby team, said it was ‘just a normal game of rugby’ when she was hit by a tackle that saw her stop breathing during of their match against Didsbury on Sunday 20 February.

She said: “I passed the ball and caught my leg halfway and then hit the ground.

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“I found myself on my back, I had a headache but I got up.

“I tried to take a few steps but then I just took a funny turn and that’s when I stopped responding.”

That’s when two of Ashleigh’s teammates, Hayley Cornforth and Hannah Picknett, came to the rescue.

Ashleigh said: “Hayley was trained in the military and Hannah is a firefighter so they instinctively knew what to do.

“The team that helped too, people were taking coats and holding umbrellas, while others were keeping my 7-year-old son busy inside so he couldn’t see what was going on.”



Ashleigh (centre) with some of her teammates.

The ladies performed CPR for about five minutes until the ambulance arrived.

A statement on the club’s Facebook page after the incident said: “You may have heard that during our game yesterday one of our team-mates stopped breathing after a blow to the head.

“We are very grateful to our two heroes who knew what to do without hesitation and saved his life.

“Fortunately, she will be fine, but she has a long recovery ahead of her.

“Thank you to everyone who sent kind words and messages.”

Ashleigh started playing rugby in 2019, and it’s not the first time she’s been injured, but she’s still determined to get back to playing and said she would “come back tomorrow” if she could.

Unfortunately for her, that won’t be possible as following the concussion she has been told to rest for 12 weeks, which means she will be out for the rest of the season.

She said: “I’ll be watching and cheering for them from the touchline, I’m so lucky to have a rugby family that goes above and beyond for each other.”

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