Chris Henry reveals details about stroke suffered hours before South Africa game 6 years ago

Chris Henry reveals details about stroke suffered hours before South Africa game

How Rhys Ruddock managed to handle this situation and then go out and play a stormer against South Africa, later that same day, we will never know.

On the morning of November 8, 2014, Ruddock was rooming with Ireland teammate Chris Henry in The Shelbourne hotel. Henry was due to start at openside against the visiting Springboks, with Ruddock on the replacements bench as cover for the Ulsterman, Peter O'Mahony and Jamie Heaslip.

Advertisement

The night before had been uneventful but, on game day, just before 9am, Henry's health took a drastic turn for the worst.

The Ireland international told SportsJOE Live:

"Luckily, my health scare didn't stop me from playing again, eventually. I have a hole in my heart - well, I did have - and because of that, it caused a mini stroke the morning of a Test match, when we were due to play South Africa. 

"It was a pretty shocking experience to have. I lost all my strength in my left arm, the left side of my face and my speech [was affected]. It was a pretty intense and a pretty scary experience."

Advertisement

The medical term for Henry's scare was 'Transient Ischaemic Attack'. In layperson's terms, the previously undetected hole in his heart had led to a blocked blood vessel in his brain, causing a mini stroke.

Henry was fortunate that his roommate did not panic and that he immediately sought help. He continued:

"Morning of a Test match and you obviously have butterflies but I was feeling fantastic. Ready to play and ready to get stuck into these big South Africans. Then it happened.

"I was lucky that I had medical assistance with me within four minutes. I was rooming with Rhys and I was in the bathroom when it happened. I sort of mumbled to Rhys. He was in his boxers, but he knew something was up.

"Being the hero he was, he ran straight through The Shelbourne in his boxer shorts. All the staff in The Shelbourne that morning had a great look of him sprinting through!

"He went and got the doctor. I was in the hospital, then, for four of five days but they eventually got to the bottom of it really quickly. As I said, it was one of those things that happen in life and you've just got to roll with the punches. Luckily, I'm back playing."

Incredibly, after all that drama, Ruddock took Henry's No.7 jersey and scored a try in Ireland's 29-15 victory over the Boks.

Advertisement

Just as incredibly, Henry was back playing within four months and both he and Ruddock featured in Ireland's squad for the 2015 World Cup.

You can hear Henry's jaw-dropping recollection from 20:00 below: