FORMER international rugby players Lee Mears, Shane Williams, Ollie Phillips and Tamara Taylor have broken a World Record for playing the highest game of rugby in history, 6,331m above sea level.
Taking place on the East Rongbuk Glacier, near Mount Everest’s Advanced Base Camp, at 10:15am Nepalese time on Tuesday 30th April, the game formed part of the LMAX Exchange Everest Rugby Challenge.
An event organised by Wooden Spoon, a charity which uses the power of rugby to positively transform the lives of disabled and disadvantaged children, the Challenge has already raised over £250,000 in donations. These funds will be used to support charitable children’s projects around the UK and Ireland.
Team Captain, Williams said: “In arguably the world’s most spectacular setting for a rugby match but also the most unhospitable conditions, the game was incredibly tough. If you ran during the match it took 10 minutes to recover. That said, everyone put in 100% and there was some great rugby played. I can’t praise the team enough.”
Battling altitude sickness, the symptoms of which include severe headaches, lack of sleep and loss of appetite, the group spent two weeks acclimatising, slowly advancing up the mountain. Having successfully played the highest ever game of touch rugby last week, at Everest Base Camp (5,119m), the Challengers progressed to Advanced Base Camp (6,200m).
From here they trekked to the East Rongbuk Glacier, at 6,331m, setting up a full-sized rugby pitch, including flags and make-shift posts, in accordance with Guinness World Record specifications.
Facing severe shortage of breath, with oxygen levels estimated at around 40% at Advanced Base Camp, the group then battled hard in a fiercely contested game of full contact Rugby Sevens.
Under the watchful eye of Taylor, who assumed the role of referee, Team Phillips took on Team Williams, with the game finishing 5-5.
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What an awesome day!! We woke up to beautiful sunshine,the crew set up the pitch on a glacier…and we broke a world record for the highest game of touch rugby! 😀 The girls rocked it,especially super nanna Lesley,on her birthday! This group of people have been unbelievable. So so proud to be a part of this journey raising so much cash for kids back home. Tomorrow we go up.. #lmaxexchange #worldrecord #touchrugby #rugbyfamily #woodenspoon #charity #mounteverest #basecamp #tibet #mountainrugby #teamtaylor #teamtaylorphillips #rugbywasthewinner
The successes of the LMAX Exchange Everest Rugby Challenge builds on Wooden Spoon’s exploits of four years ago. In 2015 the charity tackled the challenge of trekking to the Magnetic North Pole to play the world’s most northerly rugby match, setting a Guinness World Record and raising £240,000 in the process. With a fund-raising target of £300,000, Wooden Spoon hopes that these feats will drive further donations to help fund life-changing projects.
Match referee, Taylor, added, “The time spent at this altitude has taken its toll on all of us, but the group summoned a second wind to play the game.
“The energy has been tremendous, with everyone rallying together to spur each other on and, even though we’re exhausted, we’re buzzing at the achievement. After days of having to deal with one of the world’s harshest environments, we’re looking forward to coming down off the mountain and enjoying the feeling of have broken two world records and raised a lot of money for very worthwhile causes.”
The public can get behind the Challenge by visiting everestrugby.org.uk and using #everestrugby on social media. Wooden Spoon hopes to motivate people to conquer their own Everest through this campaign, by climbing their own Everest to fundraise for children and young people with a disability or facing disadvantage.”