Rugby players set for 958 mile charity challenge

A group of county rugby players are setting off on a John O'Groats to Land End challenge for charity – and have already raised around £35,000.

Some of the Maul Together team who will be taking on the 958 and a half mile challenge
Some of the Maul Together team who will be taking on the 958 and a half mile challenge

The 'Maul Together' team, made up of Bridgnorth Rugby Club players, will set off from their Scottish starting point tomorrow – and hope to complete the 958-and-a-half mile challenge in nine days.

They are raising money for two charities set up by former rugby players, the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation and the Matt Hampson Foundation.

Matt Hampson is a former England prop who was paralysed from the neck down after a scrummaging accident while training with the England under-21s in 2005.

His foundation was set up to inspire and support young people seriously injured through sport.

The My Name'5 is Doddie Foundation was set up by Doddie Weir OBE – one of rugby’s most recognisable personalities.

Some of the Maul Together team who will be taking on the 958 and a half mile challenge

He earned 61 caps for Scotland during a successful playing career, represented the British and Irish Lions on their successful tour to South Africa in 1997, and won championships with his two club sides, Melrose and Newcastle Falcons.

Doddie revealed in 2017 that he was suffering from Motor Neurone Disease (MND), and the former international has since been an inspirational figure with his foundation looking to fund research, support, and raise awareness of MND.

The 12-strong Maul Together team is made up of Dan Griffiths, Gareth Bladen, Callum Madden, Elliot Brooks, Adam Gittings, Jonah Boyce, Will Biddell, Will Bishop, Ed Taylor, Matt Farrington, Emily Ireland-Jones, and Jimmy Gore.

Mr Bladen explained how they wanted to do what they could to support two inspirational causes.

Some of the Maul Together team taking a well earned rest after a training ride

He said: "We are a group of local rugby players from Bridgnorth coming to the end of our playing days, so we have decided it is time to apply some of the hard work, dedication and commitment to something new.

"As we all know, the game of rugby provides a huge family and network of support to help players through many of life’s challenges. Unfortunately, not everyone is lucky enough to have this support network and it is our passion to help offer this to those that need it most.

"Our founder members have been hugely inspired by the cases surrounding the Matt Hampson and Doddie Weir campaigns.

"There are some very moving documentaries and coverage which includes Doddie & Rob Burrow speaking a lot about how lucky they are to have an amazing network around them, which has come from their amazing playing careers.

"However, Doddie worries about the individuals facing similar battles without similar levels of support around them.

"One of our passions at Maul Together is to really try and reach out to some of these isolated individuals. To help with delivering this, Maul Together has linked up with two fantastic charities in the Matt Hampson Foundation and My Name’5 Doddie Foundation who are both hugely committed to helping the individuals suffering from life changing injuries and illness. Our fundraising will be directed through these charities to best help these individuals."

The team is being joined by a number of top rugby players as guest riders throughout the challenge, including England international Kelly Smith, Dragons player Huw Taylor, Bristol Bears' Henry Purdy, Bath's Elliott Stooke, and Gloucester's Mark Atkinson.

Each leg of the route has an individual sponsor, including Antac Support Services, Schawlbe Tyres, Edwin Holdens Bottling, Impreial Bricks, Accumix Concrete, Besblock, Shropshire Homes, M&J Drilling, and Haybucks Carpentry.

Anyone who wishes to support the cause can find out more at maultogether.co.uk

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