Michael Lynagh, Australia’s leading points scorer in elite international rugby, is in a “critical but stable condition” in a Brisbane hospital after suffering what doctors said was a significant stroke.
Lynagh, 48, a World Cup winner in 1991, suffered a cerebellar and occipital lobe stroke that has affected his vision, coordination and balance, Rob Henderson, a neurologist at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, said in a statement. He was admitted to the hospital four days ago after being taken ill while visiting family.
“This significant stroke is a rare event for someone of Michael’s age,” Henderson said. “The next few days are critical because of swelling in the region of the brain stem, but current signs are positive.”
Lynagh’s stroke was caused by a blood flow blockage that is believed to have been caused by a clot originating from a split in the artery wall, Henderson added.
Former fly-half Lynagh, who made his debut for Australia at age 20 in 1984, scored a record 911 points in 72 Tests for the Wallabies before retiring in 1995 as the sport’s leading scorer. His world record tally lasted until 1999, when it was surpassed by Neil Jenkins of Wales.
At the 1991 World Cup, Lynagh scored a late try in a quarterfinal against Ireland to give Australia a one-point victory and kicked eight points in the Wallabies’ 12-6 win over host England in the final.
He signed for Saracens in England in 1996 after the sport went professional and retired two years later. He captained Saracens to victory in the 1998 Tetley Bitter Cup, the club’s first trophy in its 122-year history.
In April 2002, Lynagh joined the International Rugby Board to assist with the global development and promotion of the sport, though resigned in September that year. He’s since worked in marketing and as a rugby analyst for U.K. broadcasters including Sky Sports.
“On behalf of Michael, I would like to thank the public and his friends for their well wishes and the overwhelming support,” Lynagh’s father, Ian, said in the statement. “It has been a difficult few days and it is reassuring to know that there are so many people who care.”
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