Bus engulfed by fire on way to Ospreys game
JONATHAN Thomas admitted Worcester Warriors' players and coaches felt lucky to be alive after their team
bus caught fire en route to the game with the Ospreys in Swansea.
The Aviva Premiership club's coach was heading down the M5 on Saturday morning when the driver noticed smoke coming from the back of the bus.
Players and coaches then left the vehicle after being warned by director of rugby Dean Ryan that it was on fire.
But Thomas revealed that as they were exiting the bus there was a split-second of fear that the engine could explode with devastating consequences.
Minutes after the players departed the bus, it exploded in flames.
Squad members tweeted pictures of the blaze and clouds of thick black smoke billowing from the bus.
Afterwards, Thomas related how close they had come to a catastrophe.
"We're lucky to alive," said the 30-year-old former Wales and Ospreys' forward, who transferred to Worcester in the summer.
"We were going along on the bus as per normal and everyone was happy.
“The bus then started to pull over on the hard shoulder and people were not sure what was happening.
“Dean Ryan came on the microphone and said: 'Nobody panic but the bus is on fire and get off as quick as you can'.
“We looked back and could see the back of the bus in flames.
“There was that split second where you thought that if the engine was on fire it could explode.
“Everyone was trying to get off the bus as quickly as we could and sprinting down the hard shoulder.
“I was near the back. It took a little while to get 30 rugby players off the bus."
Thomas continued: “As we were getting off the whole of the back of the bus was on fire.
“Luckily we got everyone off and went down the hard shoulder.
“Then suddenly the whole bus just goes up in flames within about 10 minutes and it was unbelievable.
“When you are off and looking back at a flaming bus it was more relaxed and we were standing there laughing and joking about it afterwards.
“But the serious point was that it could have been so different and we were just lucky everyone was safe and sound.
“I was not shaken but at the time it was a bit frightening."
Another bus was sent to take the Worcester squad to Swansea for the match, with Ospreys' players rallying around to loan kit to their Aviva Premiership rivals.
“There was nothing left inside the bus so any belongings were just gone," said Thomas.
“I dropped a few of the Ospreys boys texts to try and gather some kit.
“Alun Wyn Jones lent me his head guard, while Morgan Allen gave me his boots.
“Adam Jones gave our tight-head some boots.”
Also on the bus was former Osprey Ed Shervington and ex-Wales full-back Shane Howarth, now on the Worcester coaching staff.
No-one was injured in the incident.
The Ospreys pushed the match kick-off back 90 minutes and did all they could to help Worcester. "They were brilliant," said Warriors director of rugby Dean Ryan.
The Welsh region won the match 23-19.