Monday, 30 November 2020

Rugby star Ollie to play match on top of world

AS if once being the captain of England's rugby sevens team wasn't hard enough, Ollie Phillips is to take on what he calls the biggest challenge of his life.

AS if once being the captain of England's rugby sevens team wasn't hard enough, Ollie Phillips is to take on what he calls the biggest challenge of his life.

Ollie, who grew up in Henley and whose mother Tracey lives in Fair Mile, is one of two former international skippers who will take part in the most northerly rugby match in the world.

Two sevens teams, plus some fans, will trek 100 miles across the Arctic in temperatures as low as -30C to the Magnetic North Pole, where Ollie will captain one side.

The extreme adventure, which will take place in April, is designed to raise £300,000 for Wooden Spoon, rugby's charity to help children, and set a new world record.

The other captain will be former England player Tim Stimpson and the referee will be former England and British Lions hooker Lee Mears.

Ollie, 32, says: "I can't even begin to imagine how I will react to being in one of the most extreme climates on earth but I am determined to finish and help set this world record.

"I have to admit to being a little nervous about trekking so far from help in case anything goes wrong and sleeping in a flimsy tent in such bitter weather.

"We have had special sessions to learn all we'll need to survive the harsh conditions we'll face. Perhaps the most sobering part of my training so far has been learning about polar bears and how to scare them away. They really are fierce creatures, not the cuddly things we like to imagine.

"Rugby teaches you the importance of teamwork and if we're going to succeed, it will be as a squad with a common purpose."

Ollie hopes to raise £25,000 on his own and says: "I hope that by taking on this extreme challenge I'll inspire people to back me and help reach my target."

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.

Last week, Ollie was given a special send-off by the Princess Royal, who is patron of the charityand presented him with a ceremonial flag.

You can follow the challenge at www.arcticrugbychallenge.org or on Twitter @wsarcticrugby

To make a donation, visit https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/oliverphillips1

More News:

Latest video from

VIDEO: Tributes paid after rugby player's death
 

POLL: Have your say