Joe Jackson Blossoming in Rugby, Eyes Team USA

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Joe Jackson didn’t let a life-threatening injury stop him from getting the opportunity to compete, he just changed the sport.

Photo by Loren Worthington
Photo by Loren Worthington

November 21, 2005 would be a day that would change Jackson’s life forever. At the time Jackson was on the Chandler Hamilton High School football team as a strong safety and wide receiver. Jackson was playing in his team’s semifinal game, however he wouldn’t finish with the rest of his teammates. Jackson broke his neck.

But throughout his rehab process, Jackson stayed positive, keeping his spirits up during a time when many could find it easy to struggle under the same circumstances.

“Many people ask themselves ‘why me,’ but I never did,” It reads on the Joe Jackson Foundation website. “I wouldn’t let myself just give up because I’m motivated to getting better and to get back up on my feet. I observed in the hospital that some patients would just lay in bed feeling sorry for themselves and would never go out with the group to get experience in their new life styles. Not me, I was an athlete and I was active before, so why change now. I have my whole life ahead of me.”

Jackson had played sports his whole life and even though he had this obstacle thrown at him, it didn’t mean he wanted to stop. Now he’s not playing football, instead he’s playing rugby.

Photo by Alana Osborne
Photo by Alana Osborne

“Rugby and football are pretty much the same,” Jackson said, according to . “You’re always working on ball skills and endurance, doing sprint, agility and speed drills.”

The similarities between the two sports attracted Jackson’s attention to rugby.

“A former teammate came into my room and let me hop into my first rugby chair,” Jackson said. “I realized I could move faster in an athletic chair and, because I liked playing football and the contact, I didn’t want to stop competing and do nothing.”

Now 25, Jackson is a member of the Phoenix Heat. And back in April, Jackson and the rest of the Heat won the 2014 U.S. Quad Rugby Association national championship in Louisville, Ky. With Jackson finding success in his new sport he has his eyes set on a new goal, making the USA rugby team.

And I’ll be the first to say that us at Rugby Wrap Up are rooting for you Joe!

For more information on Joe and his story visit

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About DJ Eberle 198 Articles
DJ Eberle is easily the largest of the RWU Team; Offensive Tackle Large. In fact, this Albany native played OT for Western New England University until he graduated in 2014. Like Junoir Blaber, he's moonlights on His Dad played prop with Johnathan Wicklow Barberie and Matt McCarthy - who also in a moonlighter. DJ's cross to bear, however, is his love for the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres. There is hope, though, that his genetic inclination for Rugby, will cure him of that! Follow him on Twitter: @DJEberle66