Posts Tagged ‘RugbyUnited’

I was asked this week, by former Guest blogger Clare Rigney to see if i could do a blog/awareness drive on the paralympic sport of Wheelchair rugby. 

Its not an area i am an expert on, so i asked for help, and was instantly rewarded by being sent an article written by D’arcy Doran all about the sport.

Keep an eye on the #RugbyUnited hashtag, as we are working on getting a GB wheelchair rugby player to do a QA!

As this was an article written for a publication, i will give a taster, but i HIGHLY recommend that you check out the link to read the whole thing.

D’arcy can be found on twitter (@darcydoran) and has his own website ( so check him out there too!


A bang echoes through London’s cavernous Olympic basketball arena as one wheelchair rams into another. Britain’s Aaron Phipps has been hit by a Canadian defender, and for a split-second his left wheel hangs precariously in the air. Phipps spins into a 180. Escaping with the ball, he carves around another Canadian opponent who’s been expertly blocked by teammate Ross Morrison. Arms pounding like blades on a steam locomotive, he carries the ball across the court and over the goal line to score.

The guards on Phipps’ wheels are battered like comets; a history of hits, both taken and received. This is the world of wheelchair rugby – the Paralympics’ only full-contact sport and its fastest selling ticket. It’s also one of few sports where a welder stands by, ready to reassemble the Mad Max-style wheelchairs that provide a second skin for the athletes battling it out on the court. Originally called murderball, the sport was invented by Canadian quadriplegics who were frustrated because they couldn’t play wheelchair basketball. It became a Paralympic sport in 2000. Played on a basketball court with four on a side, it’s a fast, high-scoring game that borrows from rugby, handball and ice hockey. All players are classified as quadriplegics. Some were born disabled, but most came to the game after an accident or illness knocked their lives sideways.

Britain – aka Team GB – has twice come heartbreakingly close to a medal after losing bronze medal matches in Beijing and Athens. At the London Games, the home team is determined to break that streak. This test event, in April, is a chance for Britain, Canada, Sweden and Australia to scuff up the Olympic basketball court, and for Team GB, ranked six in the world, to test their podium potential ahead of September’s Games. In Beijing, it was Canada that beat them in the bronze medal match. But today, Canada is struggling to handle one of the biggest additions to Team GB’s arsenal: No. 13, Aaron Phipps.

Dangerman. Man on fire. One-man wrecking machine. These are just a few of the names the announcer uses to describe Phipps in the hard-fought game against Canada. The deejay running the arena’s sound system, having picked up on the nickname bandied about by Phipps’ team mates, decides to play ‘Monster’ by Welsh band The Automatic each time he scores. The song plays forty-five times during the 63-62 win over Canada.

Upon entering the murderball world, players effectively get a number stamped on their forehead based on how much of their body works. The system is based on a five-point scale. Someone with no injury would be a five and someone completely paralysed would be a zero. Phipps is a 3.5, the highest classification allowed to play wheelchair rugby. The number means his spine has not been broken, but his four limbs are damaged. For others, the higher the break is up their spine, the less they can use their body and the lower their classification.

These numbers are crucial in the game because the combined points of the four players on the court cannot exceed eight. For every player like Phipps, a team needs someone like Team GB’s Jonny Coggan – a 0.5 nicknamed ‘The Silent Assassin’ for his knack of sneaking up on and stopping higher-classified players. Or Mike Kerr – a 1.5 who brings the streets of Glasgow to his game with an aggressive style that gets him knocked on his back often but also produces spectacular goals

The game often draws people in just as they are coming out of rehabilitation. After being surrounded by tenderness and caution, the sports’ aggression and fearlessness is, for many, a welcome antidote. Team GB’s Kylie Grimes, whose career as a horse show jumper ended after a swimming pool diving accident, first saw the game while she was still in the spinal unit. She remembers the feeling of slipping into a rugby chair for the first time. “I felt like I could do things again,” says the twenty-four-year-old. “You feel the hits all the way up your legs and into your head.” A 0.5, she is one of a handful of women competing at the international level. The men give her no breaks because she’s a woman, she says, adding “and I wouldn’t want them to.”

The full article can be found at, as i say, i have only used a few snippets from the article.


Thank you for giving us the piece D’arcy, it was a great read! and welcome to #rugbyunited! 😉




It FINALLY happened. 

The long awaited day of charity rugby came around, on the 7th July 2012, and myself along with the Midlands chapter of #RugbyUnited were up and out early for a breakfast of champions (McDonalds breakfast wrap, brown sauce, extra hash brown….) before heading through the drizzle and ominous looking black clouds to Chosen Hill FP RFC and into the first charity event featuring #RugbyUnited.

I’ve covered the reasons behind the game in a previous blog, so won’t go back into it again, but the recipients of the fundraising were the Multiple Sclerosis society.

The turnout wasn’t as big as we hoped, but we had enough people to play 4 games of mixed touch rugby, the first 2 were 6 a side with 4 subs, and both won by Patriots, then we went to 10 a side for the other 2 games.

The bigger games seemed to suit team #RugbyUnited though, and we took wins in the last 2 games to make the final score 2-2!

The last game also saw potentially the GREATEST touch rugby try of all time. Patrick Keen, Stephen Parsons, Oli Parrett, you know which i mean!!! TOUCHDOWN! (nb, i took a call from Steve Walsh, he assured me the pass was backwards…..)

The weather, somewhat miraculously, stayed dry all day (except for a couple of spots in game 1!) and i even picked up a tanline, which is rare for me at the best of times!!!






I think i can speak on behalf of all the players when i say that it was hugely enjoyable and can’t wait til the newly renamed Pink Patriots will no doubt receive another challenge from RugbyUnited next year!

Rumour has it that we MAY have a second game lined up in the North West in a few weeks time, so keep eyes peeled for that. 

Got to do a few thank you’s now. 

First of all, we so far have raised £370 and we still have items to sell, so a huge thank you to EVERYONE that attended and put their hands in their pockets! Special mention to Gemma Fox (@Gemma_Fox) who travelled a helluva long way to come watch!!! 

Secondly, thank you to the food providers, Andy Jarrett from That Foodie place (@thatfoodieplace) and the people from Cupalicious (@cupaliciousglos) who provided some frankly delicious looking cakes!!!

Thirdly, Worcester, Gloucester, The RFU, RABO, Kukri, Westons Cider, Knights Accountants, Nottingham, Cotton Traders, PROPS,Bristol Rugby, Saracens, Plymouth Albion, Gilbert Rugby, Cornish Pirates,and the RFU for providing us with the raffle and auction prizes and special mentions to Lesley Toft at Cotton Traders for turning a no into a yes,  Raging Bull for providing the Patriots shirts and PROPS for lending us the kit for RugbyUnited!

To Andy Jarrett from MS Society, Freddy Whittaker from the Citizen and Sam Durham  from scrum five rugby for the various press we’ve been able to garner!

To Stephen Parsons for not only turning up to Ref/play, but for bringing along an Olympic torch that most of us were photographed with!

lastly, and this is where i’m BOUND to forget someone… to the people who gave up time to help out… to the various members of both teams!….here we go….

Rich Church Keen (thats me!), Anne Church Keen, Patrick Keen, Jo Spence, Ed Spence, Pip Howard(RugbyUniteds first ever try scorer), Sam Beale, Stephen Parsons, Nick Lewis, Rhys Lewis ,JP Corry, Jacko Corry, Dave Heywood,Oli Parrett(the winner of distance travelled contest and touchdown scorer!), Marc Moor, Sinead Byrne, Jess Yeates, James Hoddy, Emily Barrett, Adam Trigg, Trevor Large,Chris Hubbard, Joey Maley, Matt Moore, Fran Oliver, Adam Trigg, Rhys Lewis, George Porter, Adam Barnes,Daniel Irvine, Marc Riddel. James Howell, Hannah Barnes, Andy Jarrett

As i say, i’ve doubtlessly missed people, if i have, contact me, and i’ll edit. you all deserve your shout out!

Actually, the final shout out, and a MASSIVE thanks will be to our hosts at Chosen Hill former pupils RFC. The rain could’ve caused the club to cancel in aid of protecting their pitch, but they allowed us to play on and without that, we wouldn’t have raised a penny!!

I must admit that i felt very proud of everything and everyone on the day. There was no animosity, no tantrums, just banter, comradeship and great fun. Truly what rugby is about and especially in my eyes, what RugbyUnited is about. 

Next year. We will have more experience, more contacts, a bigger reputation and hopefully better weather to pull in more of a crowd!

I will leave the blog here, with a link to one of my fellow RugbyUnited bigwig Nick Lewis’s tries!

Thanks again! Until next time (a slightly aching) RC-K! xxx


Nick Lewis is one of the guiding lights of #RugbyUnited, and has been responsible for several #RugbyQA and #RugbyQuiz on twitter, as well as being one of the organisers of next weeks inaugral #RugbyUnited charity match.

He can be found on Twitter on @NickLewisNo8 and is always dependable for a good line of banter.

Nick sent me this blog a couple of weeks ago, and i love the idea of it, and i would really like to know other people’s rugby experiences, so much so that i will add mine to the bottom of Nicks. If anyone would like to send me theirs,or any other blog, please send them onto me (with a bit about yourself) to

Nick’s rugby history!

“you run forward, pass backwards, it’s not difficult to understand”-
Austin Hill, games teacher at Saintbridge School for boys (around 1983 )

            That was my introduction to rugby. Thrust upon me  by my school. If you went to school in Gloucester, you played rugby.It took a while to get the hang of it but I got there in the end.
            I didn’t play for my school, I wasn’t good enough but I did play house rugby and loved every minute of it.

             When I left school I decided to play for Coney Hill RFC, why Coney Hill? Because my brother played there.
             Coney Hill ran 4 sides but getting into a side was near on impossible. John Masey was captain of the 4ths ” you don’t just walk into the side, you earn the right to play”
So my first season consisted of training on Tuesday and Thursday and then playing for 10 mins on a Saturday but once you were in, you were in.
It took a while but eventually I got accepted and played at a reasonably good level.
             Finding my right position took a while, started on the wing(I was slimmer and quicker in those days), played 3 seasons at Full Back and then found the best position on the pitch. No7 , open side flanker. For those who don’t know, open side flanker is  a right royal pain in the arse, you play right on the edge of what is strictly legal according to the laws, some might call it cheating, i say its only cheating if you get caught.You put your hands into rucks, you hold onto the ball on the floor, you hold on to scrums by your finger nails, you tackle fly halves at least 30 secs after they have offloaded the ball. Like I said, best position on the pitch.
              I played for Coney Hill on and off for 22 years at every senior level, I have had the honour of playing with some great players, everyone of which would fight for you, bleed for you,I wouldn’t go as far as say die for you but it certainly felt that way. I have been on great tours, having the pleasure of playing in the unbeaten tour of Canada.
             I have made some great friends, friends for life, not just at Coney Hill but in all the clubs in Gloucester.
             Sadly I had to give up playing due to a shoulder/ neck injury which just won’t heal. I’ve had injuries before, popped rib cartlidge,broken fingers, broke my nose 7 times, lost teeth, usual sporting injuries but this one wont go away. I remember when I went to the Doctors and she said the following
           ” normally I say to you, think about giving up. Now I’m telling you, give up”
Sad day.

           The saddest thing is I don’t go to watch Coney Hill play, the reason being that I don’t think I could resist the temptation to play. I know deep in my heart that I would be in a world of pain for days after so why put myself through it.

            So now I support Gloucester,which is not easy, some might say another world of pain.

             But I can honestly say, I enjoyed every second of every minute of every match that I have ever played in, if I could carry on i would, wouldn’t think twice. I would say to anyone, if you get the chance to play then play and you too will see why rugby, in my humble opinion, is the greatest sport in the world.

By Nicholas Lewis aged 41 and 1 quarter 


Rich’s Rugby story

My introduction to rugby started at primary school when i was chosen to take part in ‘New Image’ rugby (now known as touch) as part of a school sporting initiative, to be honest, i don’t recall too much about it, but i know that was my first taste.

My introduction to ‘proper’ rugby came courtesy of my Dad. Or more accurately, it came via one of his clients at work, a young fella named Mike Teague. My Dad used to get me the odd signed photo etc, but the biggest buzzes i used to get were seeing Teaguey turn out for England.

This led to my year 7 rugby team, and my efforts to emulate Teaguey and play at number 8, this lasted a few weeks training and half a game after i accidentally backheeled the scrumhalf in the teeth, and was then moved to play at flanker. Much to my dismay.

I had a season or so at flanker, but was thrust into hooker due to injury to other players, and took to it like a duck to water, and ended up keeping my place when everyone was back fit, and even got into Coventry’s youth team and had Warwickshire trials in my third choice position. 

Try scoring was never my forte, i scored twice playing on the wing in a ‘b’ team game and sccored once with a classic forward bellyflop over the line and that was it. For me it was all about hooking against the head,stealing the ball, and not getting caught for various acts of foul play. All of which i was very good at. 

I was injured for most of year 10 rugby at school, after tearing my shoulder/neck muscle in the Coventry schools cup final and then in year 11 injured my knee training with Coventry and pretty much gave up.

In hindsight, i probably should’ve.

In my late teens, i was invited to play for Balsall and Berkswell RFC and spent the pre season getting in some pretty good shape, so much so, i was moved to play inside centre, a position i’d never played before, but at the time i was deceptively quick and pretty big, so had plenty of beef to bring to the backline, unfortunately, in my first full contact game in my new position, i got caught in a maul at an odd angle, which led to 2 herniated discs in my back and the ultimatum from my old boss… your job or rugby.

So i became a full time fan at that point. Gloucester Rugby of course, who else?

They have given me more lows than highs, but some amazing days out, weekends away and sessions on the cider as well as meeting some great people and now with #rugbyunited i am offered a chance to give back to the sport, as well as helping out charities!


This won’t be the last #RugbyUnited blog over the next week or so.

I will be writing the final overview of the #RugbyUnited v Southwest Patriots games this week, and there will be reviews of the games next week.

There will also be some kind of blog about the relationship between Rugby and Charities, inspired by our work with the MS society and an email i received from Braintree RFC. If i find time, i will write that up this week as well. 

I also want a volunteer from each aviva premiership club to email me ( a quick preview of their club for next season for use in a future blog….

So keep checking back, there may be something new and exciting..



I feel that the few blog readers that I have, have been with me throughout #RugbyUnited fledgling 6 months or so. But its almost time to take it off of the internet and make #RugbyUnited an entity in its own right, whilst still sticking to our principles (giving everyone a chance to participate, being fun and different, helping the disadvantaged etc).

Some twitter friends, and now fully fledged #RugbyUnited members, James Hoddy and Emily Barrett, approached us with the idea of a fundraiser for Multiple Sclerosis,more specifically, the Multiple Sclerosis Society,and we saw it as a chance to put ourselves out there and raise our profile, whilst helping a fantastic cause.

The fundraiser was decided as a day of touch rugby, its a chance for regular players, first timers, injured old men (otherwise known as me) to get together and have a run out. We originally (and quite coincidentally) decided the games would take place on the 10/6/12 (yes, today.) but due to a few issues, we postponed it to July 7th. This is great news for me, as it gives me a little longer to get back in game shape.

The event will take place at Chosen Hill rugby club in Gloucester and will involve Mens and Womens games (and we need players, should you be reading this and fancy a run ) as well as a pretty awesome raffle which contains the following prizes,

  • Signed Gloucester Rugby Ball
  • Signed England Rugby Ball
  • Signed Nottingham Rugby Shirt
  • Family Voucher for 10 seats to a Saracens Wembley Stadium Match
  • Two Tickets to a Bristol Rugby Match
  • Two Tickets to a Plymouth Albion Rugby Match
  • Cornish Pirates Book ‘Pirates Pirates!’
  • Signed Cotton Traders England shirt
  • Kukri Polo shirt
  • Family pass for Westons Cider Mill tour and tasting
  • NEWLY CONFIRMED!! Signed Cardiff Blues and Llanelli Scarlets shirts!

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(Further prize donations will be gratefully recieved as well!!)

I will be working this week so we can figure a way to do some online raffle ticket sales, so watch this space!!!

We are also awaiting confirmation of our intention to break a world record on the same day, I won’t give too much information away on this just yet, but its a pretty easy one to beat, in my opinion, so we want #RugbyUnited to SMASH it!!! (thats not a clue, by the way!)

If you are interested in coming along,even if its just to laugh at my feeble attempts to roll back 12 years and play rugby on 1 semi functioning knee, i will post the details on here, but they will also be on our website (, our forum (which is free to join! )  on our various Twitter pages ( @RichC_K @TrevorLarge @NickLewisno8 or search the #RUTeam hashtag!), we also have our very own Facebook group ( so PLEASE join us and help us in any way you can!

Its a great cause and we want to raise a lot of money and have a lot of fun, it will also be the first of many of these kinds of fundraisers, for various charities, nationwide, in fact, if Trevor gets his way, it’ll be WORLDWIDE!

Watch this space!!


Edited to add:-

Due to our prizes covering so many geographically varied rugby clubs, we would like to offer online raffle sales so that fans of the clubs can get involved. Unfortunately, we would need either a specific bank account or some kind of funding to pay for software or online hosting, which we don’t have.

The only way i can think of being able to do this would be if people sent us/me money for the tickets, i will then print your numbers on our forum and ensure the money ends up in the charity fund. Its not the ideal way to do this, but its the only feasible way i can see us being able to provide the opportunity for everyone to be involved. If you are interested in having the chance to win one of our prizes, email me ( and i will let you know my details.