Martin Johnson sends powerful statement after tragic battle to save neighbour - Ruck

Martin Johnson sends powerful statement after tragic battle to save neighbour

Martin Johnson remains a household name, celebrated for his illustrious sporting career forged with determination and passion on both the field and the sidelines.

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Widely recognised for leading England to World Cup victory in 2003, his legacy extends beyond this triumph. Among rugby fans, Johnson is distinguished as one of the select few to have captained the British and Irish Lions on multiple tours.

Since becoming patron of the Joe Humphries Memorial Trust (JHMT), Johnson’s motivation has switched from lighting up people’s lives to helping save lives.

Johnson said: “If you have got someone on the floor who has collapsed with no pulse what are you going to do?

“You may think ‘it won’t happen to me’ but if it does and you haven’t done any training you will have to live with that forever.

“I would urge all coaches to take UK Coaching’s online course, so that if you find yourself in that moment, you will know what to do; and know that you are giving that person the best chance they have of survival.”

“There will always be an initial shock if you are confronted by it, because we aren’t paramedics who deal with it every day, but if you have had training, you go into autopilot, remember the steps you have been taught and jump straight into the ‘have we done this’, ‘have we done that’. That’s what training does, it kicks in.”

Johnson knows this from personal experience. His neighbour had a heart attack a few years ago and Johnson and his wife (who were first on the scene) administered CPR while a friend ran to fetch the village AED.

“We did what we could. Unfortunately, the post-mortem showed that there was nothing that we could have done that would have saved him because it was heart disease, not a cardiac arrest. 

“But at least you know you have done everything that you can do. The thought of just standing there and doing nothing in that situation is horrendous. It was horrific anyway. 

“I’m just forever grateful that me and my wife both did the training through the Joe Humphries Memorial Trust.”

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What England’s 2003 Rugby World Cup heroes look like now, some are very different

They have gone on to lead different lives but, for one night late last year, they reunited to remember that famous day in Sydney.

Sir Clive Woodward’s England lifted the William Webb Ellis trophy for the first – and so far only – time in 2003, after a Jonny Wilkinson drop goal in extra time.

Woodward’s side are still the only northern hemisphere side to win the World Cup, with the other nine tournaments won by South Africa (four), New Zealand (three) and Australia (two). 

In a video posted by England Rugby’s Instagram account, Wilkinson – who scored the all important drop goal 28 seconds from time – said: ‘It’s great being back with all the guys from the squad 20 years on.

‘It’s great to be able to see everyone, and to get a feel of what everyone’s been up to, but also to I guess get a feel for why we were able to do what we did 20 years ago, because it still lives on in everyone.’

Take a look at how some of the key players look now:

Phil Vickery

A former Gloucester and London Wasps prop, Phil Vickery called time on his career at the end of the 2010 Premiership season. The two-time British & Irish Lion was a revered opponent across the world, and has since started a successful clothing brand ‘Raging Bull’, with his on-field nickname. Vickery was forced into retirement due to a series of neck injuries, and in 2012 he joined Worcester Warriors as their Scrum Coach.

Vickery has also tried his hand at sports broadcasting, as he was apart of the commentary team for the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. His on-screen appearances have also been witnessed across a variety of TV shows, including ‘Celebrity MasterChef’, which he won in 2011. An eternal fan favourite at Kingsholm Stadium, Vickery was appointed the title of Deputy Lieutenant of Gloucestershire in 2015.

Jonny Wilkinson

Renowned for his iconic drop-goal that secured victory against Australia in the 2003 final, Wilkinson transitioned into a coaching role with Toulon, focusing on kicking and skills development following his retirement. He also now works as a pundit for ITV Sport during Rugby World Cup’s and the Six Nations.

Will Greenwood

Greenwood continued to shine on the international stage following the 2003 glory, and went on to represent the British & Irish Lions for their 2005 tour to New Zealand. He ended his career at Harlequins in 2006, and soon gave his experienced views through analysis and punditry. Greenwood co-hosted the ‘School of Hard Knocks’ TV series with former Wales international Scott Quinnell, and was an on-screen analyst for ITV as England reached the final of the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

Will has also explored opportunities away from rugby, and is the current Chief Customer Officer for data and software company Afiniti’s London office. Greenwood’s family was struck with tragedy, after his son Freddie died just 45 minutes after being born. The former England centre underwent an inspirational walk to the North Pole in memory of his son, and helped to raise over £750,000 for Borne’s research. Greenwood is a patron of Borne, who are a medical research charity that work with cases of premature birth. He is also a patron of Child Bereavement UK, which is a charity that support parents who have lost a child.