Rugby Legends and Vets Come Together to Celebrate Birth of the Sport and Raise Funds for Wooden Spoon and Rugby School

On Saturday 24th June, Rugby School and Wooden Spoon, the children’s charity of rugby held a day in celebration of the sport of rugby.  

The event, hosted at The Close, Rugby School, saw rugby players come together to watch a re-enactment of the birth of the sport before competing in a pair of Vets and Legends matches, raising funds for the charity and Rugby School. 

Vets, legends and Rugby School staff take part in rugby matches on ‘The Close’ where rugby first began. Photo credit: nickbimages

The occasion honoured two significant milestones—the 200th anniversary of the game’s inception and Wooden Spoon’s 40th birthday, with the event celebrating all that is wonderful about the game of rugby, from its tradition to its teamwork and commitment, to giving back to the wider community. 

The celebrations kicked off at 12:30pm with a re-enactment by pupils from the school of the sport’s inception, including the moment William Webb Ellis ‘picked up the ball and ran’, in defiance of the rules of association football.  

A Rugby School student re-enacts the invention of rugby. Photo credit: nickbimages

The highly anticipated Vets and Legends matches saw team Rugbiens walk away with the win for in the Women’s match and team Rugbiens in the Men’s match – after two highly competitive games that had the hundreds of spectators in attendance on the edge of their seats.  David Flatman who kicked off the men’s team said, “It was a great privilege kicking off the game, good to be out there with the lads but secondly it actually hurt so I couldn’t run off afterwards and nearly got caught in the action”.  

The teams included players such as Scotland’s Alex Grove, Mat Gilbert and Red Rose World Cup winners Tamara Taylor, Gill Burns MBE and Heather Fisher, who played alongside Wooden Spoon National Vets and Rugby School staff. 

Olympian and former England International Heather Fisher interviews rugby legend Jonny Wilkinson for Sky Sport. Photo credit: nickbimages

To celebrate such a special year, for both Rugby School and Wooden Spoon, the day was followed by an evening at the Celebration Ball, hosted by the popular rugby pundit David Flatman. Heather Fisher spoke about how far rugby has come in those 200 years and the growth of the women’s game. 

The Celebration Ball included an auction to help raise further funds.  

The funds raised by Rugby School and Wooden Spoon will be split between the 1823 bursary and Wooden Spoon.  

To continue to support vulnerable children and young people across the UK and Ireland, Wooden Spoon will donate their portion of the proceeds to fund life-changing projects. With the help of Rugby School’s donation, which will go towards the school’s new 1823 Bursary, means-tested spots will be made available for boys and girls who exhibit great potential and athletic ability, with up to 100% of tuition and other costs being covered to help nurture a future rugby star. 

Former England International and women’s rugby pioneer Gill Burns takes a kick. Photo credit: nickbimages

Sarah Webb, CEO of Wooden Spoon said: “Rugby has done so much for Wooden Spoon, the children’s charity of rugby and to be at Rugby School where it all started and see the difference it is making to the lives of vulnerable children and young people is incredible. We are seeing a huge impact from the cost-of-living crisis and an event like this that brings the whole rugby community together and reminds them about the work that we do supporting vulnerable children is off the scale for us.” 

Peter Green, Executive Headmaster for Rugby School said: “This has been a spectacular celebration of the game of rugby.  It’s unusual to be able to pinpoint the moment a sport was born, but with rugby we can, and today, at the birthplace of the game, Rugby School, we have celebrated that moment.  The day’s events are a highlight in our year of celebrations, and I was delighted to see so many people joining us, not just for a great afternoon of sport and charity fundraising, but to mark the 200 years of the game that began here.  I’d like to thank everyone who joined us, the students who took part, our Rugby 200 patrons, and all the staff who make these events happen.” 

To continue supporting the brilliant work undertaken by Wooden Spoon and Rugby School, click here to donate.