Rugby players brave the heat to help score top total for charity - The Evesham Observer

Rugby players brave the heat to help score top total for charity

Evesham Editorial 8th Sep, 2019   0

AN EVESHAM rugby player was among those who braved temperatures in excess of 30c to raise £100,000 to help disadvantaged children and young people across the UK with the world’s longest ever game of rugby union.

Earlier this year, children’s charity Wooden Spoon broke two world records on Mount Everest. The first saw a group of intrepid explorers play the highest altitude game of touch rugby outside Everest Base Camp at 5,119m.

The team then went one further with a game of rugby sevens at 6,331m on the East Rongbuk Glacier, near Advanced Base Camp to record the highest game of rugby in history.

But the charity’s fund-raising efforts were far from done for the year as it embarked on another world record attempt over the bank holiday weekend with the help of platers such as Evesham RFC’s Ben Capaldi.

Previously standing at 29 hours and 15 minutes, the record for the world’s longest game of rugby union was set last year by Scotty’s Little Soldiers and the Firefighters Charity. To break this record, a Wooden Spoon team took on a School of Hard Knocks (SOHK) outfit at Hazelwood, the home of Premiership Rugby team London Irish, over a 30-hour period.

Playing a game of rugby, under official laws, the two teams kicked off at 11am on Sunday August, 25 and battled hard in tortuous conditions that saw the mercury rise to a searing 33°C.

Stamina, hydration and player management, through tactical use of substitutions, were therefore key to the teams’ success, with medics and physios running repairs, taping up players, and applying ice, while volunteers regularly ran on with energy snacks, water and sun cream.

The 44-year-old said: “The boys dug really deep and it was a great experience. The spirit in which the game was played was outstanding and it was great seeing members from each side helping to keep everyone’s morale up.”

SOHK got on the scoreboard first and were able to keep this lead throughout the game, outmuscling Wooden Spoon over the ensuing 30 hours. With the score showing 2,154 v 1,163 to SOHK, comprising a total of 545 tries, 290 conversions, and four drop goals, the players were relieved to hear the final whistle blow at 5.31pm on Monday, August 26, having set a world record.

The two sides were comprised of enthusiastic rugby fans and players from a variety of backgrounds, including a sprinkling of star dust in the shape of former England cap Andy Gomarsall, who was in the Rugby World Cup-winning squad of 2003.

Sarah Webb, CEO of Wooden Spoon, said: “It is testament to the spirit of Wooden Spoon, School of Hard Knocks and wider rugby family, that this group of players would go to such great lengths to raise money for those less fortunate than themselves.

“For everyone to have put their bodies under such stress for such a long period of time must have been excruciating but the morale of the players never waned and it was an immensely enjoyable experience for all.

The longest match of rugby union has been supported by Wooden Spoon’s corporate partners O’Neills, which supplied the kit, and Irwin Mitchell, who sponsored the team’s rugby shirts for the match.

Wooden Spoon aims to raise £100,000 through this challenge to help disadvantaged children in the UK have better opportunities in life as a bid to increase its impact in the year of the Rugby World Cup.

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