Sunday, March 07, 2010
Over 11 000 fans turned out at the Twickenham Stoop last weekend to watch England and Ireland legends of the game play in the inaugural Stuart Mangan Memorial Match, in aid of the Matt Hampson Trust in England and Keith Woods Paralysed Rugby Players Fund in Ireland.
England were led by former captain Martin Corry, and had the likes of Jason Robinson, Josh Lewsey, Mike Catt, Neil Back, and Jason Leonard playing. Ireland were led by Shane Byrne and included Mick Galwey, Reggie Corrigan, Trevor Brennan, Justin Bishop, and Rob Henderson.
"It's definitely a lot more friendly than it used to be but I think when the whistle goes the lads will still try to be as if their waistline was a few inches thinner and they'd be able to run a little bit faster," said Byrne pre kick-off.
While the match raised support for both charities, it was in honour of the memory of the inspirational Stuart Mangan, who was just 26 when he passed away last August following a spinal injury while playing for Hammersmith against Fulham RFC in London in 2008.
"We are absolutely delighted that the match is taking place we received fantastic support from the rugby community for Stuart before he died and they want to continue supporting his memory," explained Stuarts father, Brian Mangan.
"With Stuarts love of rugby this is a particularly appropriate way to honour his memory, one which allows people who gathered around him at the time to stay in touch with each other."
Former England fullback Robinson was outstanding on the night, showing that hes still got the magic that dazzled defenders for so many years. The cause was greater though.
"This means a lot to everybody and the fans have turned out in their thousands, so it's great to see that," said Robinson, who ran circles around some of the more out of shape players.
Plans are already under way for this to become an annual fixture, with the return match being played in Dublin in 2011.
Note: Thanks to Sky Sports