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Fire fighters prepare for community rugby match

Written by on 10 September 2021

Fire fighters from Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service are preparing to take part in a rugby match for charity in recognition of the work of former colleagues.

The rugby union match, which takes place on 12 September from 2pm at Stafford RUFC, will see fire fighters pitted against The Combined Services Barbarians – a team comprised of current and former members of HM’s armed forces.

Teams will be competing to win The Blaze Trophy while raising funds for The Fire Fighters Charity.

Fire crews will be taking part in order to recognise the hard work of a colleague who unfortunately sustained a broken back in a training exercise which subsequently resulted in lower limb paralysis and another colleague who is currently experiencing a terminal illness. Both men are married with young families.

Fire fighters involved include members of Burton, Sandyford, Mercia, Abbotts Bromley, Stone, Stafford, Rising Brook and Cheshire.

Special guest players on the day will include Fijian legends, wing centre and number 8; Apo Satala and flanker Akapusi Quera.

Also due to take to the pitch is former Leicester Tigers, British Lions, and England player, Rory Underwood MBE.

The former RAF Aviator is the patron of the Barbarians team and has played a total of 236 matches for Leicester tigers – scoring 670 points. He received his first England cap in 1984 and soon became one of his country’s leading players. Over his 12-year International career, he became country’s leading try scorer, until overtaken by Johnny Wilkinson. Underwood also played for the RAF and combined services during his professional career.

Other players due to attend include members of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Royal Air Force and 15 different army regiments. The youngest player started as an original at 18 and is now 21, serving in the Royal Navy and the oldest is a former Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineer, aged over 60.

Each team will have 30 players split into two separate teams and will play 40 minutes each.

The Barbarians have one veterans’ team and one serving team while Staffordshire Fire and Rescue team will include fire fighters and five officers from Staffordshire Police, with a total of six England fire service players too.

Andy Topham, of Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service, who has helped to organise the event, said: “This match will not only bring together members of the fire service, police force, and HM’s armed forces, but will draw the community together in support of wonderful charity

“The game already has such a buzz around it and I am proud to be offering my support to colleagues who have benefitted from the help of The Fire Fighters Charity due to illness and disability.

“I hope as many people as possible are able to join us on the day and cheer on both teams, although as the Barbarians Manager I am possibly a little biased!”

For tickets and to find out more, contact Stafford Rugby Club on 01785 211241