Written by Vets Player Major Andy Wilde
On Friday 25th May the Rugby for Heroes vets players (over 35s) and support staff braved the Bank Holiday weekend traffic to head down to Bournemouth to take part in the Big Boys 10s rugby competition. This is part of the huge sports festival that has grown around the Bournemouth 7s event. This was to be the second year the charity had taken part in the event having won the competition last year.
The team came from all corners of the country and was a mixture of military veterans, serving soldiers and ex rugby professionals. What all involved have in common is not only their love of rugby but also and more importantly that they are either supporters of, or involved with, the charity. Over half of the team have attended one of the charity’s Transition Through Rugby courses and have then returned subsequently to support and take part in other Rugby for Heroes events.
The aim for the weekend was to win the competition again and in doing so crucially raise awareness of the charity in the wider community. There was also an off field aim of raising funds for the charity by selling t-shirts and rugby kit. A sterling effort by the sales team saw the stall close early because everything was sold out!
On the pitch the pool matches went very well with Rugby for Heroes topping the pool and therefore making it to the final. The final didn’t go to plan and despite a valiant effort we ended up losing to an excellent Carmarthen Warriors side. While we may not have retained the title we certainly increased the profile of the charity. For the players, it was an amazing opportunity and privilege to represent Rugby for Heroes. The charity has given so much to all involved and this was a chance to repay the investment that had been made in us. It also was a great chance to meet up with friends and expand the Rugby for Heroes community. In terms of the wider aims of the charity this is another example of where the transition of ex-military personnel is supported by using rugby as a vehicle to enable it.
The Bournemouth 7s weekend was great fun to be part of and will hopefully develop for next year. The support and clear public interest in the charity was fantastic to see and it’s a huge audience to influence in the future. Next year there is the potential for bigger and better involvement of the charity and hopefully a chance to win the Big Boys 10s title back!