The challengers have today unofficially broken a World Record for playing the highest ever game of touch rugby at 5,119 metres above sea level!
The game, which was played at Everest Base Camp at 12.15pm Nepalase time on Thursday 25 April 2019, ended in a three try draw and will now be sent to Guinness for official verification of the World Record.
With oxygen levels estimated at around 50% at Base Camp, the group faced severe shortage of breath but battled hard in a fiercely contested match. Team Taylor-Phillips took on Team Mears-Williams and the two sides went toe to toe throughout the game, each scoring three tries, whilst being overseen by referee and Wooden Spoon Rugby Manager, Matt Mitchell.
Team Taylor-Phillips opened the scoring at the Everest end of the pitch, through Bristolian Huw Lougher, only for Williams to equalise shortly after at the Base Camp end. A further exchange of tries left the score 2-2 at half time.
Phillips was first to score in the second half, touching down in the Base Camp corner, but Mears took advantage of a gap in the Taylor-Phillips defence to run in a sixth try in the dying seconds. With no time to restart, the match ended in an honourable draw. Birthday girl Lesley Davies, from St. Leonards-on-Sea, was unanimously voted as MVP by all four captains, despite making her rugby-playing debut.
Despite battling altitude sickness, the symptoms of which include severe headaches, lack of sleep and loss of appetite, a number of the group will now spend time recovering and further acclimatising, before advancing to higher altitudes for a second game. The aim is to set another world record, for the highest game of full contact rugby, at 6,500m.
With a fund-raising target of £300,000, Wooden Spoon hopes that the feats will drive further donations to incredibly worthwhile causes.
Team Captain, Lee Mears said: “It was a very, very tough. If you ran during the match it took 10 minutes to recover. I can’t praise the challengers enough, they all dug deep, worked as a team and brought such energy to the game, in such inhospitable circumstances. I have played some big games in stadiums all over the world, but what a setting it was for a rugby match.”
Team Captain, Tamara Taylor added: “It was so much fun. Everybody was worried about how hard it would be, but it was a really quick game with some great rugby played. Ollie Phillips, of course got competitive, but we all pulled together in our teams and it was fantastic to have a bit of healthy competition.”
Lee Mears also added that the match was a real morale booster. “It has been hard. We are in one of the harshest environments in the world. I have been to the North Pole but this is much tougher.”
He added: “You wake up freezing, after only a few hours sleep with temperatures as low as -12 degrees, then the sun warms up, getting to temperatures of 25 degrees, before dropping dramatically to freezing temperatures after 3pm. There have been days where we feel like we have been walking with no purpose, as our bodies learn to acclimatise, and getting sicker with every step. But we are all being well looked after by the expedition team and our doctor and we look forward to attempting the second world record.”
Sarah Webb, CEO of Wooden Spoon, commented, “As the team progresses up the world’s highest mountain, we are reminded of all those who are attempting to overcome their own challenges. To that end, we hope this Challenge can inspire people in all walks of life, from the disabled and disadvantaged children who will benefit from the funds raised, to those moved to achieve something, whether it’s running 5km or a marathon, or even learning a new life skill.”
The LMAX Exchange Everest Rugby Challenge is supported by LMAX Exchange, a high-growth financial technology company, whose CEO, David Mercer, added, “We are swelling with pride at the bravery of the challengers trekking up Mount Everest and will continue to cheer the players on as they work towards the second world record. Rugby is an inclusive game of integrity and teamwork. This spirit drives both Wooden Spoon and LMAX Exchange in what we do. We are proud to support Wooden Spoon and its life-changing projects for children and young people.”
The LMAX Exchange Everest Rugby Challenge touch rugby teams, with referee Matt Mitchell, were:
Tamara Taylor, Ollie Phillips, Mark Ackred, Roger Davies, Lesley Davies, Nick Stevenson, Paul Jordan, Jon Ingafield, Huw Lougher, Ben Harvey, Carrie Gibson
Lee Mears, Shane Williams, Rob Callaway, Jess Cheesman, John Curtis, Viv Worrall, Mark Dean, Miles Hayward, Jeff Broderick, Matt Franklin, Jude McKelvey, David Fenton, Simon Wright, J O’Malley.
You can get behind the Challenge through the use of #everestrugby on social media, donating to Wooden Spoon or by texting EVEREST5 to 70085 to donate £5. Wooden Spoon hopes to motivate people to conquer their own Everest through this campaign, by climbing their own Everest to fundraise for children and young people with disabilities or facing disadvantage.