BERKELEY — A University of California, Berkeley rugby player is partially paralyzed after being injured during the opening minutes of a national championship game, his family said.
Robert Paylor's family said in a statement that the sophomore is paralyzed below the chest and has limited motion in his arms due to a spinal injury.
Cal's rugby head coach Jack Clark said Tuesday the team is devastated by Paylor's injury and "intends to be there with him every bit of the way."
Paylor, of El Dorado Hills, was injured Saturday in a game where the Bears beat Arkansas State 43-13 at Santa Clara University. He had surgery that evening but how the 20-year-old was injured is not yet understood, said Anton Malko, Cal's assistant director of athletic communications.
His family set up a GoFundMe page, saying the 6-foot-5 inch, 233-pound Paylor faces a difficult journey with an uncertain outcome. They estimate his medical expenses for the first year of therapy to be about $1 million.
"We know his faith and determination will get him as far as he can go in regaining mobility," his family said. "We are overwhelmed with the love and support we've received from people all over the country."
A rugby powerhouse, Cal's Golden Bears have won 27 of the 37 collegiate national 15s championships played in the United States since 1980.
Family friend, Jennifer Douglas, whose son, Tyler, is a rugby teammate, told the Mercury News Paylor is a strong young man who "makes everyone laugh" and is "truly one of a kind."
"He's a young man of incredible faith," she said. "He is going to fight. There is nothing that will get in his way. He believes he will beat this thing. He is so positive and that's what he's going to need for this."
A prayer service for Paylor was planned for Thursday evening on the UC Berkeley campus.