Wooden Spoon, the children’s charity of rugby, announces that former international rugby star Ollie Phillips is to take on a major new rugby adventure at the North Pole.
Former international rugby star Ollie Phillips is joining rugby veterans, Tim Stimpson and Pat Sanderson, in a squad which is bidding to set a new Guinness World Record: playing the world’s most northerly rugby match at the 1996 Magnetic North Pole.
Phillips, the former England 7s, Gloucester and Stade Francais winger is no stranger to big adventures. Since injury forced his retirement, he has completed the gruelling Clipper sailing race around the Atlantic in the Great Britain team.
Speaking about the Arctic Rugby Challenge 2015 outside the House of Lords, where he was being introduced to fellow challengers, Ollie Phillips said:
“This is going to be a really serious challenge. Not only am I going to be playing rugby at the top of the world in temperatures hovering around minus 40 degrees Centigrade, but I am trekking there across the Arctic ice, sleeping in a flimsy tent and spending most of my energy staying warm.”
The Arctic Rugby Challenge is Wooden Spoon’s most extreme challenge to date and the squad will be aiming to set a new world record and raise around £500,000 for the projects supported by the charity. The Arctic Rugby Challenge is sponsored by LMAX Exchange and Quilter Cheviot are corporate partners.
The challenge itself begins in April next year when the team flies to Resolute Bay, one of the most northerly communities in Canada. Ollie Phillips and the rest of the squad will undergo their final Arctic training before embarking on a 100 mile trek across sea ice to the 1996 Magnetic North Pole, playing a full 7-a-side match in conditions which have never been experienced in any rugby match before.
Ex-Lion Tim Stimpson, who will be captain of one of the teams, said: “We could look like the most unlikely of sportsmen, wearing our full polar kit underneath our rugby shirts. Trying to pass the ball in thick gloves will make the ball-handling pretty difficult. But it will be a piece of sporting history I would not want to miss.”
Speaking at a reception for Wooden Spoon in the House of Lords, Ollie Phillips said he hoped years of top flight rugby will be a good grounding for the challenge. “Getting to the Pole will need team work. Most of us know from our love of rugby how important that is for success. So at least we have something to draw on if the going gets tough.”
Wooden Spoon’s lead ambassador Phil Vickery was on hand to welcome Ollie and the other challengers to the House of Lords reception. He commented: “It is fantastic to see three former international rugby players committing to raise so much money for Wooden Spoon. This challenge is a terrific example of the spirit of rugby achieving great things for other people.”
You can follow Ollie Phillips @olliephillips11 and the Arctic Rugby Challenge at www.arcticrugbychallenge.com or on Twitter @WSArcticRugby