Wooden Spoon stirs up excitement with the Arctic Challenge
Wooden Spoon, the children’s rugby charity, proudly supported by BT MyDonate, has organised the northernmost rugby match in history at the North Pole and is waiting for verification that it has set a world record.
Former England rugby players Tim Stimpson and Ollie Phillips captained two teams that endured dangerously low temperatures of -30 degrees C while trekking to the magnetic North Pole and then playing a game of rugby.
Rugby in the North Pole
Tim Stimpson's team emerged victorious by 17 to 14. To ensure the world record was legitimate, the North Pole rugby pitch had to be measured and marked to make sure it complied with world rugby regulations. Lee Mears, the former England hooker, also had to train to be a referee to ensure the match would meet requirements.
The team flew out in May after being trained to deal with temperatures of -50 and the danger of polar bears. It was a gruelling and risky challenge; the expedition leader became too ill with an infection to continue and the players had to spend an extra two nights at the North Pole because the weather was too bad for their plane to return to Resolute Bay in Nunavut, Canada.
Integrity, teamwork and fun
Wooden Spoon was set up after the 1983 Five Nations game, when England lost and the England fans were awarded a wooden spoon by their Irish friends. The England fans accepted the spoon and decided to hold a golf match to see whether the spoon would be passed to Ireland or kept by England; this golf match became the first fundraising event, and the Wooden Spoon charity was born.
"The charity is about supporting children through the core values of passion, integrity, teamwork and fun, and harnessing the support of the international rugby community," says Juliette Gillard, head of marketing at Wooden Spoon. "People fundraise across the UK and Ireland, and we have ambassador support from international rugby players who raise awareness about what we do."
An obvious choice
A total of £200,000 has been raised so far and the fundraising is continuing; the writer JK Rowling donated £5,000 towards their £300,000 fundraising target.
BT MyDonate was an obvious choice for the Arctic Challenge team, says Gillard. "It was the fact that it doesn’t take any commission that sold us straight away," she says. "The difference is phenomenal."