Last week the House of Commons and Lords Rugby Club visited Twickenham Stadium for their annual charity rugby match in support of the RFU Injured Players Foundation!
This year the Commons and Lords faced a joint team made-up of players from Newark RUFC and Southwell RUFC who accepted the challenge. Led by Newark coach and ex-Barbarian player Richard Byrom, the ‘Golden Oldies’ of Newark and Southwell rose at the crack of dawn to make the long journey down to Twickenham for a day filled with rugby, new experiences and fundraising for the RFU Injured Players Foundation.
After some pre-match bacon butties, both teams made their way down to the England Home and Away dressing rooms to get ready for the match, each player going through the same preparations that the likes of Dylan Hartley, George Ford and Owen Farrell had been through just weeks before.
After a brief warm-up and some pre-match team photos, both teams entered the tunnel, eyed up the opposition and lined up ready to make the run onto the pitch, following in the footsteps of so many greats before them. As the teams entered the field the travelling crowd cheered and the atmosphere was great. With both teams in position, special guest and ex-international referee Chris White blew his whistle to start the match.
The game was a close affair with both sides able to give all squad members a good run out on the hallowed turf over four quarters of 20 minutes each. Newark & Southwell fancied their chances of causing an upset due to their larger squad which rotated between Newark & Southwell players in each quarter and captain Richard Byrom, 54, put in a stellar performance scoring twice to celebrate his first appearance at Twickenham in a long career. Byrom’s only other appearance at Twickenham as a player had been a short-lived affair. He was once part of a Nottingham squad at the Middlesex sevens, “… but we lost in the first round and I never got a chance to play,” he said.
Unfortunately for the travelling Away team, when the final whistle blew the Commons and Lords had snatched victory with a well worked try and conversion in the last play of the game to win the match 34-32!
After the game and some final post-match photographs, players headed back to the changing rooms for a shower and the spectators made their way to the Members Lounge for lunch. The boys soon made it up for lunch as well (some quicker than others) for a well-deserved hearty pie and mash lunch.
The speeches followed where club ties were awarded to debutants and notable players in recognition of the big occasion. An auction followed where some very generous and lucky people went home with a signed shirt, ball and a House of Commons bottle of whiskey, plus some other brilliant prizes donated by the home and away teams. The auction raised just shy of £1000 for the RFU Injured Players Foundation which is fantastic for the charity.
In addition to the successful action, both Away Teams presented the RFU Injured Players Foundation with a combined cheque for £12,000 which was accepted on behalf of the charity by trustees Paul Murphy and Nigel Henderson.
The IPF team thoroughly enjoyed meeting many new faces and were incredibly thankful for all of the hard work and for the incredible amount raised by all players and spectators on the day.
Everyone in attendance had a fantastic day, and before leaving the stadium Southwell president Charlie Anstey commented: “I have been to Twickenham a number of times but I have not had a day like this.”
Special thanks must go to Mark Pawsey MP and Paul Farrelly MP for coordinating the Commons & Lords Rugby Team and for once again making this celebrated fixture a reality. The IPF would also like to thank both Newark RUFC & Southwell RUFC for travelling down and bringing such an enthusiastic group of players and supporters and for working so hard to fundraise a fantastic amount for the IPF. A big thank you to both Alan Swain (Newark RUFC President) and Charlie Anstey (Southwell RUFC President) for rallying both clubs together. An additional thank you must go to Dr Andy Smith and Barney Kenney, for providing physiotherapy and medical cover on the day, Chris White, Michael Patz, Pedro Diogo and Hugo Marino for officiating the game, and to Nick Scott for whole-heartedly supporting the match from Newark’s side. The opportunity for the two clubs to join forces was paved by Newark MP Robert Jenrick who was among the Parliamentarian XV alongside another Nottinghamshire MP in Sherwood’s Mark Spencer. A huge thank you must also go to Cipros International and most importantly, Steve Armstrong for coordinating both Away Teams and for playing a key part in making this year’s match a huge success.