Well we’ve come to the end of an incredible journey – and have a couple of world records to show for it.
Not only did we complete our bid for the longest continuous rugby union match, we also managed to notch up the most points in a game. Fair play to the Armed Forces lads, they had more than a little bit to do with that one!
I can’t really describe my feelings at the end of it. We counted down to the world record and then decided to play on for another 20 or 25 minutes. We could have done more but we’d got away without any really serious injuries and we didn’t want to tempt fate.
There were a few grown men with red eyes at the end of it though. All the players got a glass trophy presented and the Champagne was sprayed about.
Then they all went to bed!
As for me, I think I got about two hours sleep in three days. I got up about 5am on the Friday and it was a bit of a mad dash to get everything set up in time. We had 40-odd children there and they were all paired up with a player each with their names on the back, which was really nice for the mums to see.
We had the Red Arrows, anthems and the Wives Choir and we got started virtually on time, just a couple of minutes late.
At the start of the game the boys went at it like it was a normal 80-minute match. I’d gone into the changing rooms beforehand to have a word with them and they were all bouncing off the walls.
Obviously they’ve been training so hard, for so long, and been looking forward to it for ages.
It was a bit feisty early on and a couple of the lads squared-up. Someone said to me, ‘what happens if we get a red card?’ I just said, ‘we can’t get a red card!’
It was a really hot day and after a couple of hours it all settled down and the Forces team pulled away quite quickly. Credit where it’s due, too. It was a good standard of rugby being played.
There were a couple of dicey moments injury-wise. One guy hadn’t taken on enough food and he pretty much collapsed and couldn’t carry on, so we sent him back to the hotel.
The Forces captain ruptured a muscle and couldn’t walk for about four hours and there were one or two other near misses, where the lads had to go off.
At one stage we were wondering if we’d have enough players, it was pretty brutal stuff. There was a bit of leeway as far as the world record was concerned and we could afford to drop a few but luckily we were ok. I’m not sure if the lads were fatigued or not able to tense themselves up enough to go into tackles but they got through it.
Playing through the night was probably the toughest aspect. The teams were obviously both flagging and it was a tough time. But as the morning came, we could get the music back on and open the gates again and it really gave them a second wind.
I think the end of the match was just as feisty as the start!
It was emotional for everyone involved at the end. The kids were there and it was an awesome sight.
After the lads got some sleep, we had the party – again at Welford Road – and we raised about £3,000 from the auction on the night. So far the total raised stands at about £65,000 and money is still coming in. It’s been phenomenal.
It has opened doors for us, too. We’ve had people approach us to play games and there’s a lot of possible things lined up in the future. A Scotty’s sevens team is going round the country playing tournaments and they’ll be a couple of fund-raising golf days as well.
I’ve got a list as long as my arm of people to thank, everyone has given us so much support. None more so than Leicester Tigers. The club has been a different league and I can’t tell you how much they’ve helped us. We’ve got things in the pipeline to work with the club again.
As for me, I’m going to become a dad soon. Another big challenge!
Thanks for all your support.