Another Dubai 7s has come to an end and this year the International Vets 10s competition was finally won by the Xodus Steelers at the 3rd time of asking and you could tell from their reaction on the field after the game that it meant alot to them. As fantastic achievement it was for the Scottish side that include legends Delport and Ralph and experienced tourists such as former British Army man Howard Graham the thing I took most from this competition was that it was being used for good. As has been the case at the major tournaments across the world. Sevens has a strong relationship with charities from the Rugby Rocks tournaments in Yorkshire, Edinburgh and London and Prostate Cancer to the Essex Sevens and Help for Heroes the game is used for further good causes in both raising money and helping with awareness. It appears that the International Vets Competition in Dubai has an even stronger connection than most with a large number of the sides using the chance to compete under the banner of a charity for all number of reasons.
7s still quite right being used as a tool for charity
Another Dubai 7s has come to an end and this year the International Vets 10s competition was finally won by the Xodus Steelers at the 3rd time of asking and you could tell from their reaction on the field after the game that it meant alot to them. As fantastic achievement it was for the Scottish side that include legends Delport and Ralph and experienced tourists such as former British Army man Howard Graham the thing I took most from this competition was that it was being used for good.
As has been the case at the major tournaments across the world. Sevens has a strong relationship with charities from the Rugby Rocks tournaments in Yorkshire, Edinburgh and London and Prostate Cancer to the Essex Sevens and Help for Heroes the game is used for further good causes in both raising money and helping with awareness. It appears that the International Vets Competition in Dubai has an even stronger connection than most with a large number of the sides using the chance to compete under the banner of a charity for all number of reasons.
For many years that Dubai Vets competition has been a happy stomping ground for the Cristina Noble Foundation. A side that holds no punches in the side that they name. This year the team included Percy Montgomery, Pete Richard, Fereti Tuilagi, Colin Charvis and Jim Jenner all household names (some perhaps more than most) the side is more than just a jolly for names of yesteryear though as The Christina Noble Children's Foundation is an International Partnership of people dedicated to serving underprivileged children with the hope of helping each child maximize their life potential. The program has projects all over the world and the 7s world learns more about it each year as the side tends to play in the final in front of 40k + of fans in the final as they did this year. Even if it drives 100 more people to a website and a few of those to also donate then the side's involvement has been beneficial.
Further information on CNF can be found here, with donations able to be made here. The support of these charities by fans and spectators, players and management of the game not only helps children across the world but it makes it possible to see great rugby players in the desert of Dubai
This year it was not the stars of CNF that had all of the press, in fact most of the attention on the outer pitches at 7he Sevens was on a side representing the charity Joining Jack. The side included many of the famous Wigan RL faces that won the Middlesex Sevens a number of years ago including Martin 'chariots' Offiah, Andy Johnson, Dennis Betts, Gary Connolly, Kris Radlinski and Jason Robinson. All household names in the North of England especially and of course Jason Robinson a rather famous name from the England RWC03 winning side. They were perhaps outshone by their waterboy though. Bradley Wiggins; winner of the Tour De France and a number of olympic medals including a gold at London 2012 made sure that the older rugby league legends were kept hydrated.
Joining Jack is a charity that has touched us at UR7s. We were lucky enough to go to a press conference with Bradley Wiggins, Dennis Betts and charity founder Andy Johnson. Wiggins was his usual casual self mixing witty dry humour with the very tough reality of the situation the charity founder Johnson finds himself in.
In October 2011 Johnson and his wife received the earth shattering news that their son (Jack) had been diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). Failing a medical breakthrough, Jack's life will follow a predetermined path, mapped out by this progressive muscle wasting condition. In short, he will no longer be able to walk by the time he reaches adolescence and will lose the use of every single muscle in his body thereafter. He may need spinal rods to keep him upright and ventilation to help him breath. Eventually his heart and lungs will fail and he will die.
Jack is obviously deeply loved by his family, his Uncle was also at the press conference and when a short video was played with a cheeky Jack playing in the swimming pool whilst the facts of the disease scrolled across the screen, tears were in his eyes. As with the case for any Father, Johnson could not watch the screen. He firmly stared blankly straight ahead throughout the play. Since the diagnosis, the family have formed the charity and worked tirelessly to raise awareness of the disease and raise funding so a cure can be found. They are not ashamed of the fact they want their sons life to be as full and positive as it can be and they are quite right.
Rugby has long been an outlet for charities and though Joining Jack and their side made up of rugby league greats fell at the semi-final (they were not great at the breakdown!) they caused a real stir and that was the aim of the trip. Bradley Wiggins won the tour with the backing of his Team at Sky with many of the riders acting as 'domestiques' in carrying the water for their leader, this time because of his passon for the cause it was the turn of the multiple gold medal winner, and Tour De France Champion to carry the water and it was one he obviously relished.
More information can be found out about Jack and the work is family are doing to find a cure at www.joiningjack.com with a download available of a song 'Sacred Heart' available in support of the charity here. Wristbands are currently being sold, anything that can be done to help with the charity then it must be. Andy Johnson won many a rugby match for Wigan in 90s, including World Club Championships and Grand Finals but standing alongside his son the two of them face their greatest ever battle but with everyone's support it might well be their most glorious victory.
Rugby Rocks & Prostate Cancer Charity
It's not just teams that have supported charities with the use of former and current great rugby players. RugbyRocks festivals taking place in London, Yorkshire and Edinburgh has been working with Prostate Cancer UK since their first festival in 2010. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men, claiming the lives of over 10,000 men a year. However, men are notoriously bad at talking about their health and they believe rugby is a perfect audience to reach men and to educate them on the cancer and its affects.
The charity raises funds through the events and they also organise the Prostate UK Sevens team to raise further funds and awareness. Any team that commits to fundraising over £1,500 for Prostate Cancer UK is given free entry to any of the Rugby Rocks events. The aim though was always to increase awareness of the charity beyond RugbyRocks and into the wider rugby society.
Beyond the festivals we have worked with the charity on various projects. For example, in 2011 Prostate Cancer UK was the Official Charity of the Emirates London 7s at Twickenham showing that the charitable arm of rugby 7s spreads from the social competition of Rugby Rocks through to the elite international competition of the HSBC World Sevens Series with the London event.
They haev recently launched a ‘Blue Mouthguard’ campaign to raise funds and awareness. The idea is that pro players would wear the ‘Blue’ to show support for the charity, they'd then sell a Blue through stores and online at Opro.com with a donation from each sale going to charity. Loads of players got heavily involved including James Haskell, Schalk Brits, Joe Simpson, Charlie Hodgson, Brad Barritt with Ugo Monye and Danny Care fronting the campaign.
Recently the guys have branched into bridging the divide between rugby and fashion in having the idea too run a charity rugby fashion show. The idea was then pitched to Ugo Monye as part of his testimonial year and he cam on board to support the project.
Further information on the Prostate Cancer Charity can be found here with donations able to be made here. To keep up to date with what the guys at Rugby Rocks are doing both with their tournaments and charity events click here.
Rugby Sevens is a fantastic game but that is also exactly what it is, a game. A game that is played at it's core for some fun between friends. We are now blessed to be able to watch it all over the world with thousands of other fans but life is also a lot more real than that with many in the game affected by illness and circumstance. These charities and projects look to give back to others through the game of 7s. The very least we can do is support them especially at this time of year as we don't know when our own life my take a different turn and help be needed.
UR7s will be looking to support both Joining Jack and the Prostate Cancer Charity in 2013. Keep your eyes peeled for how!