Lynagh Says He’s Lucky to Be Alive After Dodging ‘Cannonball’
Former Australia rugby captain Michael Lynagh said he’s yet to regain full vision since suffering a stroke last month that his doctor said could have killed him.
Lynagh, Australia’s leading points scorer in international rugby, held a news conference today after being released from the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital. He suffered the stroke on April 16 while catching up with friends in his home town.
Although he’s able to undertake daily tasks including reading, writing and using a computer, Lynagh, 48, said he’s lost 45 percent of the vision in his left eye and is unable to drive. Rob Henderson, a neurologist at the hospital who has been treating Lynagh, said such a severe stroke can be fatal.
“It’s been a tough couple of weeks, I’m pleased to be here,” Lynagh told reporters. “It’s not an insignificant thing that happened to me. As Rob said to me, ‘you didn’t just dodge a bullet, you dodged a great big cannonball.’”
Lynagh, a World Cup winner with the Wallabies in 1991, will remain in Brisbane for three to four weeks because it is too dangerous for him to fly. He’ll then return to London, where he now lives with his wife and children.
Lynagh spent six days in intensive care after suffering a cerebellar and occipital lobe stroke that was caused by a split in an artery wall at the back of the right side of his neck. Lynagh said he began to feel unwell after choking on a gulp of a beer and laughing at the same time.
“Usually you can identify some minor trauma,” Henderson told reporters. “In Michael’s case he was laughing and coughing at the same time, so that might be a good thing to avoid.”
Former fly-half Lynagh scored a record 911 points in 72 Tests for the Wallabies before retiring in 1995 as the international game’s leading scorer. His world record tally lasted until 1999, when it was surpassed by Wales’ Neil Jenkins.
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.
“I understand how lucky I am,” Lynagh said today. “I’m just very, very fortunate.”
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