Wigan Warriors PDRL’s Aaron Moon looks ahead to Friday’s Armed Forces Day where Adrian Lam’s side host Salford Red Devils.
The ex-Royal Marine documents his own life and how rugby remains a huge part of it.
- “Rugby gives you something to get up for in the morning, to blow off the cobwebs and show what you can achieve.” Moon
Wigan Warriors PDRL’s Aaron Moon describes Friday’s upcoming Armed Forces Day as an ‘amazing’ event.
The ex- Royal Marine Commando states it is nice for people to ‘appreciate’ the services, especially the people he knows who never made it back.
“I’ve been on a few occasions and have been in the crowd when the lads have walked out. I would say to any one that they should get down to the game, as rugby is thrilling and high impact.”
He continued, “I’ve been out in a Wigan shirt with the poppies on and had a number of fans from different clubs saying, ‘fair play,’ including some from Saints. There’s a lot of support in rugby league, it’s an amazing family orientated game.”
Moon is a part of Wigan’s first PDRL team and played his first game for the club earlier this year against St Helens, something he describes as ‘special.’
“I have played at Twickenham for the Navy in front of 70,000 people but there was something about putting the Wigan badge on my chest and being able to lead the lads out with my little boy as my mascot.”
Adding to this, the ex-Royal Marine praises the impact rugby can have on an individual.
“It gives you something to get up for in the morning, to blow off the cobwebs and show what you can achieve.”
Moon’s incident happened on a routine patrol whilst serving in Afghanistan.
“It was about half five in the morning, we were in an armoured vehicle which went down a little ditch that had an improvised explosive device buried at the bottom. I got blown through the armoured door and the vehicle moved 10 foot.”
The incident left Moon with multiple injuries, with his distinctive memory being looking down and seeing his body ‘in pieces.’
“I had big chunks of my legs missing, my first reaction was to get morphine into my body as the pain was quite severe. It felt like a lifetime for the lads to get to me. The other lad in the vehicle was on top, so came off a little better.”
Moon believed his training with the Royal Marines helped him to cope with the terrible situation.
“We get taught that bullets bounce off us, that we are the best, in that situation you just have to deal with it. The lads luckily have the same skills as me, and I was back in the UK in 24 hours.”
A year on from the accident, Moon’s leg wasn’t healing as it should have been, leaving him with the decision of whether to live the rest of his life in a wheelchair or have his leg cut off.
“Being around other amputees and seeing how well they were doing made it a no brainer, get it off and get going.”
After being medically discharged from the Marines in 2011, Moon not only became a personal trainer and set up his own gym, but also became a professional golfer and one of the first registered amputees on the PGA in the UK.
One thing he missed whilst playing golf was being around a team.
“My job in the Marines was very team orientated but in golf you are there on your own. I am more of a team guy instead of just doing things for my own benefit.”
Once the opportunity arose to play for Wigan PDRL, Moon could not resist the prospect of becoming part of a team again and playing for his home club.
“I have supported Wigan and played rugby all my life. I played whilst in the Marines and the Navy, so to have that opportunity again, golf was pushed to the side.”
The ex-Marine states playing the game again was ‘quite natural,’ but admits the hardest part was adapting to the other players around him.
“All our disabilities differ,” he states. “You have to adapt to the people you are playing with, it’s bizarre but works in a weird way. Even our coach is partially sighted on one side so when he’s on the pitch you need to know which side to pass the ball.”
Being part of a team again is something that Moon describes as ‘awesome,’ and that they don’t see each other as having disabilities.
“It is just like going to a normal rugby club, as we work together, and the banter is there. I am one of the older lads, so it is nice to look after the younger ones, we like to keep everyone involved and it is like one big unit.”
He continues, “I don’t think I am different to any other person out there as I want to do everything everyone else does.”
Something that has put Moon in good stead in venturing into new adventures is the training he received as a Royal Marine.
“It is the longest and hardest training in the world, 32 weeks of hell. Once you have that mindset, that is always with you no matter what. When I was blown up, I made the best of what I can.”
He adds, “I wake up every day and think it about the lads who aren’t here, so I’ve got to make the most of what I’ve been through and if I can use my story to help others and make it worthwhile.”
Wigan Warriors captain, Sean O’Loughlin, met up with and spoke with Moon ahead of Armed Forces Day.
“It is great that the Club is supporting Armed Forces Day and I enjoy meeting people like Aaron,” says the Warriors skipper.
“There’s a link with the armed forces at a lot of rugby clubs. Both have similar values that we try and put into our team, obviously not to the same extreme.”
O’Loughlin feels it is important that events like this shows ‘recognition’ for the Armed Forces from the general public.
“The men and women involved do a service for us, it is great to acknowledge what they do. As players we feel the pressure to perform when we walk out to the guard of honour and all the different aspects are there.”
The 36-year-old says he is very ‘humbled’ by what people in the Armed Forces put their bodies through.
“They achieve more than we do on the rugby field, it is great for someone like Aaron to get the opportunity to wear the Wigan badge and represent the club.”
O’Loughlin continues by praising the club for its PDRL team.
“It’s fantastic that the Club provide the opportunity, something is happening throughout sport and rugby is at the forefront of that. From the outside, it is great speaking to Aaron and seeing that he is buzzing with it.”