An elbow to the head in a rugby match is never a nice thing to go through, and it’s even more surprising and painful when it comes from a teammate, as Gio Aplon of the Stormers learned in round 18 of the 2012 Super Rugby season, hit in the head by Rynhardt Elstadt, accidental of course, although just as painful as a purposeful elbow.
Aplon has been one of the top performers in the league at fullback this season for the Stormers, scoring 7 tries as the club finished on top of the overall standings with 14 wins and only two defeats in their 16 matches. They finished the season with another win, although not an impressive one, 26-21 over the Melbourne Rebels, who finished at 13th, out of a total of 15 Super Rugby clubs.
Both Elstadt and Aplon were going for a tackle, while Elstadt let his left elbow loose, hitting Aplon on the head, immediately folding him unconscious on the pitch. Tiaan Liebenberg needed a good deal of time before he drew the attention of referee Lourens van der Merwe to stop the match. Aplon returned to the match and will be available for the Stormers’ third consecutive semifinal appearance, which if they win, will earn them the right to host their first ever Super Rugby final.
They will host the second semifinal on July 28, facing the lowest ranked opponents out of the qualifiers, with three possible opponents – Crusaders, Bulls or Sharks. Their two defeats this season came against the Crusaders and the Sharks.