DARCY Graham has revealed that he only played in this year’s Six Nations to provide a distraction for his parents after his younger brother was left comatose by a car crash. 

The winger, who has just signed a new long-term contract with Edinburgh, yesterday described the early part of this year as “a living nightmare”. His brother Craig, at 17 six years his junior, was in a coma for more than three weeks after the crash in January just outside Hawick. Craig has since gone on to make a remarkable recovery, but there were times when the family feared he would not pull through.

Graham was given compassionate leave by Edinburgh after the accident, and also missed out on playing in the first game in the Championship, the Calcutta Cup clash at Twickenham at the start of February. Having travelled to London with the team, he then felt able to resume playing against Wales, but he explained that he had been close to taking no part at all in the tournament.

“It’s been one of the worst times of my life,” he said. “It’s been bloody awful.

“It’s been very difficult. In the Six Nations I was very close to not even going in. The only reason I went in was to give mum and dad something to look forward to. It’s been quite horrible.

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“But Clark is doing well and his recovery has been good. He’s been in the Astley Ainslie [Hospital in Edinburgh], and they’ve done an amazing job. He’s back walking, showering - he can do everything himself. It’s just his balance is a wee bit off and his speech is a bit slower, but that will come back. This time next year we won’t even be talking about that.

“He’s still 17. To go through what he’s gone through - he’s unbelievable, and I’ll always look up to him now. He probably shouldn’t be here. That’s the hardest part. He had somebody looking over him that day.

“He was in a coma for three and a half weeks, and in that whole three and a half weeks we just didn’t know if he was going to make it. He got infections, and there was just one thing after another. You’d get one positive thing then something negative would come up.

“What he’s come through is hard to put into words. It was a living nightmare.”

In normal circumstances, Graham would have been desperate to play against England at Twickenham, especially after he scored two tries in the 38-38 draw two years previously. But even though he felt he was not in the right frame of mind to play, he is glad now that he was there to witness the national team’s first victory at the London ground since 1983. 

“The England game was just a week too early, but I’m glad I went down. Gregor [Townsend, the Scotland coach] offered me the chance to go down and be 24th man, and it was an unbelievable win down there, so I’m glad I went down and experienced that.

“In that first [match] against Wales it was very emotional. Every game in the Six Nations I always listen to one song - Clark always used to listen to it before I went out. I was the last one out of the changing room and I was sitting listening to the song and I would just cry away in the changing room. Then I would just flip the switch and go focus, and out I went to warm up.”

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Graham scored in that one-point defeat by the Welsh - although Covid restrictions meant he could not make hospital visits, he had promised his brother via FaceTime the night before that he would do so - and went on to play in Scotland’s subsequent three matches. But now, having recently had shoulder surgery, he will have to sit out Edinburgh’s remaining two Rainbow Cup matches and is almost certain to miss Scotland’s summer fixtures against England A, Georgia and Romania.

“I've had a few niggles over the past year that really held me back, so I want to get a full pre-season under my belt and come out firing for next season,” he continued. “The recovery has gone really well so far, pretty plain sailing, but next season is going to be just round the corner and we won’t have any time off again.”

Understandably, athletes frequently feel frustrated by their injuries, and can often feel a touch of self-pity. But, with his brother’s recovery from a far bigger setback to inspire him, Graham is in no danger of that.  

 “In terms of the injuries he has, the way he’s come in four and a half months  . . .  It’s been a very short space of time. My shoulder rehab is going to take four months, so I reckon to come back from a brain injury is unbelievable.”