Max Brito

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Max Brito
Date of birth (1971-04-08) April 8, 1971 (age 46)
Place of birth Abidjan, Ivory Coast
Rugby union career
Position(s) Wing
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
1995 Ivory Coast 3 (0)

Max Brito (born 8 April 1971 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast[1]) is a former rugby union player on the Ivory Coast rugby team. As a result of injuries sustained at the 1995 Rugby Union World Cup in South Africa, he was paralysed.[2] As of 2007 he could only move his head, torso, and an arm.


Brito played as a winger, and spent his career playing for Biscarrosse Olympique in the Fédérale 3 division of French rugby.[3] An electrician by trade,[3] he was noticeable on the field for his long dreadlocks as well as his brave play. Brito was called into the Ivorian national team squad for the 1995 Rugby Union World Cup. Brito came on as a substitute in the opening game against Scotland which the Ivory Coast lost by 89 points to nil, a result which led many to question the inclusion of "minor" teams in the tournament. He played again in the second game for Les Elephants, who put in a vastly improved performance against France, despite losing 54–18.[4]


Brito started Ivory Coast's third match against Tonga on 3 June.[5] He caught a high ball that had been kicked up the field, and set off on a counter-attack.[4] He was tackled by Inoke Afeaki, the Tonga flanker, before a ruck formed over him. The ruck collapsed and several players fell on top of Brito, leaving him prone and motionless on the ground.[5] Brito was taken to the intensive care unit of the Unitas Hospital in Pretoria with broken vertebrae.[3] Operations were carried out to stabilize the fourth and fifth vertebrae, but Brito was left paralysed below the neck.[6]

After the accident, Brito was given treatment and compensation, which was funded by all sides competing at the 1995 Rugby World Cup.[4] Nevertheless, in 2007, it was reported that Brito was still largely unable to move, being bedridden most of the time, with only some limited movement in his chest and arms.[5] He and his wife have separated, whilst he has little contact with his sons, and he now lives with his parents in Bordeaux.[5] There has been some criticism of how his case was handled, after the initial support: Damian Hopley, Head of the Professional Rugby Players' Association, said in 2003, "We became involved in money-raising events for Max ... but there was very little support for him from Rugby World Cup." [5]

In his 2007 interview, Brito was portrayed as living an unhappy life. He was quoted as saying:

"It is now 12 years since I have been in this state. I have come to the end of my tether... If one day I fall seriously ill, and if I have the strength and courage to take my own life, then I will do it...This bloody handicap - it's my curse. It kills me and I will never accept it. I can't live with it and it's going to be with me for the rest of my life."[5]


  1. ^ Max Brito player profile
  2. ^ The good and bad of Tonga, 26 September 2003
  3. ^ a b c L’Historique du Biscarrosse Olympique Rugby Biscarrosse Rugby. Accessed 19-09-11
  4. ^ a b c Rugby World Cup History – The Plight of Max Brito Archived 2012-03-21 at the Wayback Machine. Talking Rugby Union. 29-08-11. Accessed 20-09-11
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Max Brito at end of tether after 12-year struggle". Mail & Guardian (South Africa). 2007-10-04. 
  6. ^ "The tragic tale of Max Brito — the Ivorian player paralysed at the 1995 Rugby World Cup". The 42. 17 September 2015. Retrieved 17 September 2015.