The Harlequins back row, who will assemble this Sunday at Pennyhill as one of the 29 players included in Eddie Jones’ preliminary Rugby World Cup squad, was the victim of two attacks while playing for Cardiff Met University in the Welsh Championship.
Both incidents resulted in court cases and it left Dombrandt, the 22-year-old who impressed for England in the start-of-the-month win over the Barbarians, ready to pack in playing.
“Both were shocking incidents,” said Danny Milton, Cardiff Met’s director of rugby, to The Rugby Paper. “Both cases went to court.
“The first incident happened against Glynneath after Alex had made a 50-yard break. He got punched from behind. It was a dreadful incident and it left him considering giving up the game. We sat down and talked about it.
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“He found it mentally tough and I wasn’t sure he was going too come back. He’d had a gutsfull. There is probably still an element of violence which you don’t want to see in rugby.”
The first assault resulted in a court conviction. A Glynneath player was given a 10-month prison sentence suspended for two years and ordered to pay £2,000 in compensation after admitting a charge of grievous bodily harm.
Dombrandt’s fractured jaw left him unable to attend university for three months and only after considerable discussions with the rugby team did he decide to return to playing.
However, he was to suffer a second broken jaw – again against Glynneath. The incident again ended up in court but there was no conviction on that occasion.
“It made him a more resilient character,” continued Milton. “To have bounced back the way he did was just fantastic. Alex is not an aggressive person. There isn’t a nasty bone in his body. He’s like a big cuddly teddy bear.”
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