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Commons & Lords edged out by Chase Coalition in IPF charity match

18 April 2012

Action from the Commons and Lords match at Twickenham Stadium

Photo: John Parkes

The Commons & Lords rugby team’s annual charity match at Twickenham Stadium raised more than £10,000 for first-time beneficiaries the RFU Injured Players Foundation.

A combined team from Cannock and Rugeley rugby clubs in Staffordshire travelled south to the Home of England Rugby to take on the Commons & Lords RUFC, made up of MPs, Peers, parliamentary staff and guests.

Aidan Burley, MP for Cannock Chase, and scrum half for the Commons & Lords, had organised the parliamentary team’s opponents, who dubbed themselves ‘Chase Coalition’ and ran out 13-7 winners, scoring two tries to one.

John Owen, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the RFU Injured Players Foundation, and RFU Past President, was present to receive the £10,900 proceeds that included each Cannock and Rugeley player contributing £300 for their chance to play on the hallowed turf, a donation by the Commons & Lords and more than £600 from a post-match auction of memorabilia.

Having made a 5.30am departure to get to London for the match, the Staffordshire teams’ day was topped off by a visit to Downing Street for a photocall outside No.10 and a look inside the Cabinet Room.

The RFU Injured Players Foundation (IPF) supports people who sustain a catastrophic injury while playing rugby. The charity, which has more than 130 clients currently, provides help and support for players and their families, in the early months after the injury and in the long term.

The teams from the Commons and Lords match at Twickenham Stadium

Photo: John Parkes

"One of the first things I did on getting elected as an MP in 2010 was accept an invitation to the Rugeley RUFC annual dinner, and I was soon persuaded to play a game for their second XV," said Burley, who was joined in the Commons & Lords team by Lord Addington, and MPs, Mike Penning and Stephen Mosley.

"It was a privilege to be asked to organise an opposition for this charity match and I thought that my two local clubs, normally arch rivals, would be perfect."

Played in four quarters, the match began with a try for the Chase Coalition by Dave Gregory, but the Commons & Lords led when Mike Penning, MP for Hemel Hempstead and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, caught a lineout and the ball was moved expertly for Jug Johal to score a try converted by James Faiers.

A penalty goal squeezed over by Tom Impallomeni with eight minutes remaining edged the combined Cannock and Rugeley side back in front, and delighted prop Tommy Wilson celebrated a once-in-a-lifetime try at Twickenham from a rolling maul to finish the scoring.

Man of the Match, Mike Penning MP, awarded a bottle of champagne by Eliott Ray of the RFU Wine Club

Photo: John Parkes

John Owen said: "Fund-raising days like this are so important to enable us to care for the clients of the RFU Injured Players Foundation. We thank Aidan Burley, MP, and all the Commons & Lords team who play half a dozen matches a year, for returning to Twickenham for this annual fixture.

"It was also a marvellous effort by Cannock and Rugeley, both to raise the money they did and to make the journey to Twickenham, and I wonder if perhaps we should rename them the Staffordshire Barbarians."

Two teams of Year 7 schoolchildren from Cannock Academy and Hagley Park Academy were part of the fun, playing a curtain-raiser match on the Twickenham pitch.

Martin de Ridder, Rugeley RUFC director of rugby, said: "This has been a fantastic day for everyone involved.

"Catastrophic injury in rugby is very rare, thankfully, but it is great to know that if the worst does happen there is an organisation like the IPF there to help."

Man of the match Penning was presented with a bottle of champagne by Eliott Ray of the RFU Wine Club.