Sunday, 26 September 2021

Former rugby international on top of the world

FORMER England rugby international Ollie Phillips has taken part in a match at the Magnetic North Pole and helped set a world record.

FORMER England rugby international Ollie Phillips has taken part in a match at the Magnetic North Pole and helped set a world record.

Ollie, who grew up in Henley and whose mother Tracey lives in Fair Mile, was one of two former internationals who played in ?the game on top of the world?.

But the man who use to captain his country?s sevens side saw his team beaten 17-14 by a team skippered by Tim Stimpson, who also played for England.

Speaking from the pole by satellite phone, 32-year-old Ollie said: ?Everyone was pretty relieved to get there. It was beautiful weather and there was a real sense of achievement among the group.?

Writing on Twitter, he said: ?We are on top of the world! A real sense of achievement for everyone here.?

The 11 players and their polar guides had spent five days trekking across the Arctic sea ice in temperatures as low as -30C to the Magnetic North Pole for the game.

They used specially constructed rugby posts which were flown in along with referee Lee Mears, the former British Lions and England hooker, and a small group of supporters.

The extreme adventure is designed to raise more than £300,000 for Wooden Spoon, rugby?s charity to help children.

During the trek, the weather conditions were challenging, especially as they players were hauling sledges with their kit, food and supplies.

Ollie said: ?We had high winds, we had steep hills to get over, we had ice, we had snow. It was pretty tough all-round. It tested the group and everyone came through.

?The snow is fairly unforgiving and inconsistent and we?re pretty tired and exhausted.? The players faced another two-day trek before being airlifted at the end of this week to Resolute Bay, one of the most northerly communities in Canada.

Wooden Spoon funds projects which help disadvantaged and disabled children and young people through rugby.

Among the beneficiaries is the Rivertime Boat Trust, which operates a specially designed boat for disabled and disadvantaged children on the Thames in Henley.

Ollie hopes to raise £25,000 himself. To make a donation, visit https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/oliverphillips1

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