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The inspirational recovery of Cal Rugby’s Robert Paylor from partial paralysis

The Pac-12 Networks’ feature on Robert Paylor, aired on Sunday night, is a must-see.

Coaches Jack Clark and Tom Billup paid a visit to Robert Paylor in Colorado last October (when Cal Football was playing at Colorado).
Cal Varsity Rugby Twitter

On Sunday night, Pac-12 Networks aired the 18 minute long feature on Cal Rugby’s Robert Paylor. I am pretty sure that the embedded video in the tweet can be played by everyone, even without a Pac-12 Network TV account. This is a must-see inspirational story that is well worth your time. Warning, you might want to have some tissue handy while watching this.

On May 7th, 2017, then Cal freshman Robert Paylor was injured in the opening minute of the Varsity Cup championship match between the Golden Bears against Arkansas State at the neutral site of Santa Clara University. After a line-out by the Bears near the Arkansas goal, Paylor was involved in a scrum where later evidences clearly showed that an Arkansas player (with bad technique) had Paylor in an illegal headlock. The ref did not see this to stop the play, unfortunately; the Arkansas State player eventually dragged Paylor to the ground by the neck to cause significant injury to the spinal cord.

From this feature, we learn that neither Arkansas State nor the player who hurt Paylor had reached out to the injured Cal student-athlete. Gracious as ever, Paylor said that he forgives the Arkansas State player, but he is clearly disappointed by the lack of contrition from Arkansas State, especially in these modern time where reaching out is so easy to do.

As for his recovery, I was very pleasantly surprised to hear that Paylor can now move all his muscles after months of tough daily rehabilitation. Paylor still got a long way to go, but it sounds like he might even be able to walk again at some point which would be just miraculous, even with how modern medicine is progressing at a tremendous rate.

Paylor was back in Berkeley for the homecoming weekend two weeks ago when Cal defeated UCLA. He was in great spirit, and remarkably has been the rock for his teammates, friends, and family in these trying times. When his teammates visited him in the hospital the day after his injury, Paylor actually had a smile on his face (even though he had no feeling below the site of the injury at the time) which no doubt was a big reason why the team continued the season and went on to win the 7s Collegiate Rugby Championship title a month later.

Also in the video was the investigation (or lack thereof) by USA Rugby into the catastrophic accident. Even with video and picture evidence that undisputedly show Paylor in an illegal headlock (in rugby, you cannot make contact at the neck or above with an opposing player), there was basically a sham investigation that failed to use this accident as ground to make the game safer.

The takeaway, however, is that Robert Paylor is an incredible human being. It would appear that he has always been destined for great things beyond just athletics. While it is really easy to sulk after suffering a disastrous injury such as this, Paylor instead has such a positive view of everything that you can’t help but think that his miraculous recovery thus far is partially due to his will and optimistic mental outlook. As he is defying the odds with his recovery, we can all be inspired in whatever we do daily by the story of Robert Paylor.

As we have advertised here on CGB, the Paylor family has set up a GoFundMe page to pay for the expensive rehabilitation cost. More than $800,000 of the target goal of $1 Million has been raised. Cal fans can still donate via the same GoFundMe page.

Exceeding expectations, it looks like Robert Paylor is making great progress on his road to recovery, to have a normal life, to get that Cal degree, etc. To be able to go through all this with such a positive attitude, it is clear that Robert Paylor is an extraordinary young man and a fine example of a Cal student-athlete.