Matthew Hayden was left with a fractured skull and a bleed to the brain following the attack
Police said 17-year-old Littleborough player Matthew Hayden was the victim of an “unprovoked attack” on Smithy Bridge Road, Rochdale on Saturday.
They added that the attackers – described as being four or five Asian males, of thin build and in their late teens or early-20s – shouted racial abuse during the assault, and is being treated as a hate crime.
Littleborough Rugby Union Football Club (RUFC) said the car of 18-year-old Colts junior team captain Josh Jones was rammed by a black Nissan Micra driver at 2am on Saturday.
Police said that when Mr Hayden got out of the car, the other car struck him and he was then hit on the head with a golf club.
The rugby club said Mr Jones was trapped in the driver’s seat but was also attacked with a crowbar, inflicting “significant hand and facial injuries”.
A third passenger, named as Zac Madden, escaped unharmed.
In a statement, the club said the victims were “all relieved to be alive”, adding Mr Hayden has undergone surgery on a fractured skull and a bleed to the brain.
Greater Manchester Police Detective Inspector Mark McDowell labelled the attack “brutal” and “unprovoked”, leaving Mr Hayden with “life-changing injuries”.
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Matthew Hayden was hit over the head with a golf club during the attack
It added that as a result of his injuries, he will now be unable to take up a scholarship in the US this summer.
Mr Hayden’s family said the player, who they described as “caring and loyal with a gentle nature”, had been “so excited” to be offered the scholarship but was now “devastated” he will not be able to take it up.
Littleborough RUFC said it was “saddened and offering support to the pair of promising stars” who only made their debuts in the senior team earlier this season.
It added in a statement: “The police and the club are appealing to any and all witnesses that might have seen what happened at either incidents or know who they are to contact the police immediately.”