AIX-LES-BAINS, France (AP) — New Zealand sent an All Blacks jersey signed by all of the players to Namibia center Le Roux Malan after his horrible injury in their Rugby World Cup game.
Malan was carted off after breaking and dislocating his right ankle early in Friday night's Pool A match won 71-3 by the All Blacks.
His injury led to an extended break in play in Toulouse after he fell on a rain-soaked field trying to tackle New Zealand's Beauden Barrett. He immediately put his hand up to call for help, with his right foot bent gruesomely.
Malan had successful surgery on Friday night to reset the ankle, Namibia coach Allister Coetzee said on Saturday, and would recover for 3-4 days before going home.
Coetzee also revealed the gesture by the All Blacks to give Malan the signed No. 12 jersey, the number he wears for his country.
“It says a lot about the sportsmanship of this World Cup, it’s a good gesture from the All Blacks," Coetzee said. “That is not just saying the ethos and the culture and the values of rugby, but actually living and feeling it. That to me is unbelievable of the All Blacks to do something like that.”
Coetzee had said after the game the team felt bad for Malan as a game against the All Blacks "is a game that every boy dreams of playing in.”
Coetzee said he hoped the jersey would help Malan's recovery in some way.
The 24-year-old Malan, who plays for New England Free Jacks in Major League Rugby in the United States, raised a cheer from the spectators as he was being carted off with an oxygen mask on his face by holding up his right arm.
New Zealand's players also applauded him.
“I really feel for Le Roux Malan, that is really horrific," New Zealand defense coach Scott McLeod said on Saturday. "I hope he is in a lot better state today. Our thoughts go out to him.”
In a tough day for the southern Africans, Namibia also lost replacement loose forward Adriaan Booysen to a dislocated left shoulder in a tackle that saw New Zealand prop Ethan de Groot sent off.
Coetzee said Booysen's shoulder “came back easily." He will miss their next game against France but might be OK for the last pool game against Uruguay, the Namibians' best chance of a win.
AP Rugby World Cup: https://apnews.com/hub/rugby