Rugby marathon is washed away

Wigtownshire touch rugby
Wigtownshire touch rugby

At 7pm on Friday, June 14, the Wigtownshire Rugby Football Club 24-hour touch rugby event kicked off. Unfortunately, as the game started, so did the rain.

The enthusiastic group of players who had gathered to start the marathon fundraiser set about their task and settled in for their long haul. Unfortunately, so did the rain, to accompany a strong south wind which had already caused problems for the organisers marking out the pitch on the club’s training area and trying, with some difficulty, to put up the event sponsor, Douglas Engineers, Glenluce, banners.

Nevertheless it was with a positive attitude that the numbers who gathered to play grew to more than 50, men and women, girls and boys, youngsters and some even nearing that number in age and over it.

The ’Shire Agri-Hire trailer was put to good use as a rest area and shelter by those not on the field. Hot and cold refreshments were on hand this year, thanks to Food 2 Go, who were right beside the trailer on the field.

The game progressed at pace, surprisingly as they had to last 24 hours, but soon the important try counter was clicking away as the scores started to come. Similarly, the weather conditions did not abate, the Luce Bay Plant Hire lights were turned on early, along with the club’s training lights to combat the encroaching darkness.

Every player who went onto the pitch was soaked within seconds. But – to everyone’s amazement – they played on, and there was a real buzz from those huddled watching the game from the shelter.

The forecasters had predicted rain until 1am, then a break until 10am, thereafter showers for the rest of the day with the wind dropping. At 1am, what had started as a bone dry park was waterlogged. Food was brought from the clubhouse sheltered under umbrellas which the wind tried is hardest to blow away. The ground water was coming over the top of the food carrier’s trainers as he made his way to the players.

But the game went on and the tries kept coming. As did the players. Some had been out at parties, but headed out for rugby in the middle of the night. The rain did not stop as predicted, the wind did not drop and the sun did not come out at daybreak. The cold and wet was taking its toll on both the players and the pitch.

One organiser had to change his clothes four times through the night … and he had not been playing! At 7am, with no change in the conditions coming, and more heavy rain forecast, in the interest of safety and the wellbeing of those hardy and dedicated players, it was decided to call a halt to the event. Even with the clubhouse changing rooms and squash court, with the heating full on, being used as a shelter, it was felt that it was in no-one’s best interest to continue.

Calling halt to the event half-way through, it was decided to take the try count at that point and double it, for the purpose of the try count competition and the winner will be announced in due course, once everyone has dried out and the entry forms have been checked.

Of course, as the task was not completed, anyone who entered the try count competition who feels they want their money back, please contact the player whose form they completed or call into to the rugby club and this will be arranged.

Everyone involved was very disappointed that this very popular event was halted but it was the correct decision. As it happens the rain continued until about 5pm and, given the conditions, it would have been foolhardy to have carried on.

The dedication and commitment of the hardy individuals, players and officials, who played through the night is to be commended. They did this to support the development of the game of rugby locally. They showed grit and determination in the face of atrocious conditions. The comments of support they have received since Saturday have been tremendous. Comments suvh as “When are we doing it again?” show real commitment.

Wigtownshire Rugby Football Club wishes to thank everyone who supported this venture, particularly the event sponsors, Douglas Engineers, Glenluce; ’Shire Agri-Hire; and Luce Bay Plant Hire for the use of equipment; Food 2 Go for their attendance despite the event being cut short; The Galloway Gazette, West Sound Radio, Scottish Rugby and the Stranraer and Wigtownshire Free Press, for publicising the event; and the many, many people who took part in the competition; the supporters who came out to watch and not least everyone who took part and we hope we see you all again next time.