Double Record Breakers at Mount Everest
Today our LMAX Exchange Everest Rugby Challengers arrive home after breaking TWO world records (subject to Guinness verification).
ON 30 APRIL our intrepid adventurers broke a World Record for playing the highest game of rugby in history, at 6,331m above sea level. The game builds on an earlier record set by the group for the highest ever game of touch rugby at 5,119m. Both record breaking games are subject to verification by Guinness.
Taking place on the East Rongbuk Glacier, near Mount Everest’s Advanced Base Camp, at 10:15am Nepalese time on Tuesday 30th April, the game formed part of the LMAX Exchange Everest Rugby Challenge. The Challenge has already raised over £250,000, which will help fund charitable projects for children around the UK and Ireland.
The group is comprised of former international rugby players, leading business executives and a diverse range of people from the rugby community. Among the participants were international rugby legends Lee Mears (England) and Shane Williams (Wales), who boast almost 140 international caps between them. Ollie Phillips, a former star of the international Rugby Sevens circuit, and Tamara Taylor, a legend of the women’s game, having represented England 115 times, are the other star players.
Battling altitude sickness, the symptoms of which include severe headaches, lack of sleep and loss of appetite, the group has spent two weeks acclimatising, slowly advancing up the mountain. Having successfully played the highest ever game of touch rugby last week, at Everest Base Camp (5,119m), the Challengers progressed to Advanced Base Camp (6,200m). From here they trekked to the East Rongbuk Glacier, at 6,331m, setting up a full-sized rugby pitch, including flags and make-shift posts, in accordance with Guinness World Record specifications.
Facing severe shortage of breath, with oxygen levels estimated at around 40% at Advanced Base Camp, the group then battled hard in a fiercely contested game of full contact Rugby Sevens. Under the watchful eye of Tamara Taylor, who assumed the role of referee, Team Phillips took on Team Williams.
Team Phillips (in white) started strongly, one particular break of captain Ollie Phillips making good ground. Offloading to support in the shape of Arthur Prestidge, a former Northampton Saints hooker, who is making an attempt on the summit of Everest and joined the game at late notice, Phillips then received the ball back and walked in to the line for the game’s first try. Another wave of attack from Team Phillips was this time thwarted by Team Williams (in blue), captain Shane Williams showing he hasn’t lost his incredible turn of pace with a try-saving tackle that prevented the whites from extending their lead.
In the second half, Team Phillips worked hard to maintain their lead but was unable to clear their line in the final moments. A loose ball was fielded by Coventry resident Robin Callaway, who dotted down to equalise for Team Williams. The conversions were missed and with both sides gasping for air, Taylor blew the full-time whistle to mark a nail-biting 5-5 draw.
In a true demonstration of international camaraderie, the Challenge’s four Sherpas also participated in the game and joined the record-breaking celebrations.
Team Captain, Shane Williams said: “In arguably the world’s most spectacular setting for a rugby match but also the most inhospitable conditions, the game was incredibly tough. If you ran during the match it took 10 minutes to recover. That said, everyone put in 100% and there was some great rugby played. I can’t praise the team enough.”
Match referee, Tamara Taylor, added, “The time spent at this altitude has taken its toll on all of us but the group summoned a second wind to play the game. The energy has been tremendous, with everyone rallying together to spur each other on and, even though we’re exhausted, we’re buzzing at the achievement. After days of having to deal with one of the world’s harshest environments, we’re looking forward to coming down off the mountain and enjoying the feeling of having broken two world records and raising a lot of money for very worthwhile causes.”
Sarah Webb, CEO of Wooden Spoon, commented, “We have been blown away by the challengers’ dedication, grit and pure determination. The challenge has been extremely tough, brutal at times, but the team has pulled together and broken two World Records in the most extreme of conditions, as well as raising over £250,000 for children with disabilities and facing disadvantage across the UK & Ireland.
“The LMAX Exchange Everest Rugby Challenge also highlights the wide range of beneficiaries we support who are attempting to overcome their own challenges. We hope that the achievements on Mount Everest can inspire people in all walks of life, from the children and their families who will benefit from the funds raised, to those moved to achieve something, whether it’s running 5km, climbing a (smaller) mountain, or even learning a new life skill.
“We are so delighted with our achievement but we also hold back on the celebrations a little, as one of our challengers, remains in Nepal in hospital after becoming ill on the mountain. He is safe and getting better but we will have our full celebrations on his return as he is such an integral part of the team.”
James, became seriously ill when the team reached the final pitch site and was evacuated with a doctor and members of the expedition team to Nepal where he is now recovering in hospital.
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 on Mount Everest and their resolve in staging these two world records. 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. Our thoughts also are with James, for his healthy return.”