Help for Heroes Exceed Expectations

Courtesy of RFU Press Office Summertime ended in a blaze of glory at Twickenham today as the 52,254-strong crowd, which included HRH Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, packed into the world famous ground to watch the Help For Heroes side take on an International Select XV. Even before the action started, event organiser Simon Halliday announced that the event had been a success, exceeding the £1m target and raising £1.1m to go directly towards the rehabilitation the British troops seriously wounded on active duty in places such as Afghanistan and Iraq. Supported by the RFU, who loaned Twickenham to the charity for the day, the event enjoyed significant support from Platinum sponsors such as Lord Ashcroft, Nintendo and Investec. Rugby and the Forces, particularly the Army, are synonymous with rugby and all three were well represented amongst the two star-studded sides battling it out in the last of the warm summer sunshine and led by two of the great international players of recent years. England World Cup winner Lawrence Dallaglio captained the Help For Heroes side that also included his RWC winning teammates Will Greenwood, Richard Hill and Jason Robinson while the International XV was led by former Wales and British Lions centre Scott Gibbs. With the match ball abseiled in by the Army before the game, the teams paraded around the stadium to tumultuous applause and some passionate words from organiser Simon Halliday, supported by a video of the work of Headley Court in rehabilitating injured troops, it was an emotional build-up to the match. From the whistle it was clear that the crowd were in for a feast of free scoring rugby that lacked nothing in physicality from the moment H4H and Saracens fly half Alex Goode got the game started. It took just seven minutes before the crowd were on their feet for the first try, when Wales centre and skipper Scott Gibbs showed what made him such a feared centre with a neat dummy in open play to send 18 year-old International XV and Ospreys right wing Kristian Phillips sprinting over. Rhys Priestland’s conversion missed but the try lifted the Invitation XV who continued to pin the H4H team back before a loose ball and clearance put the H4H side into their opponents’ half. With Jason Robinson looking dangerous every time he got the ball the H4H pounded the Invitation XV’s line with their No.8 Joe Kava wrapping up Joe Simpson after what looked a certain score in the corner. Great defence from the H4H back three prevented the International XV from scoring from a Priestland-inspired quick break-out and with both sides already making changes, Dallaglio was glad to take the opportunity to cut his side’s deficit through an Alex Goode penalty to take the score to 3-5. A dropped ball in midfield from the International XV then gifted the H4H side another opportunity and their concentrated build up, which included efforts from Robinson, Greenwood and Dallaglio, caught their opponents out to set up Richard Hill who smashed his way over for one of the most popular scores of the afternoon. Goode’s conversion put his team ahead for the first time, 10-5. After referee Sean Davey had had a word with both captains about the number of offsides that were slowing the game down, the H4H side immediately responded driving deep into the opposition 22 where young Bath prop Nathan Catt’s drive created the ruck from which he was able to pile over to extend his side’s lead to 15-5 at the interval. The International XV started the second half as they did the first, camping in the H4H 22 and, from a five metre scrum, the ball went out on the left for a text-book touchdown from former Scotland wing Kenny Logan with Priestland’s conversion bouncing off the upright to safety (15-10). And then came the moment that many of the 52,254 fans had been waiting for, as England’s World Cup winning captain Martin Johnson came on with 47 minutes on the clock. But it was his former teammate Will Greenwood who helped put the H4H side back into the opponents 22 in an attack that prompted referee Davey to produce a yellow card after the International XV’s replacement flanker Paul Volley was deemed to be killing the ball. Despite the deficit, Logan almost scored a second try before the rapidly-tiring H4H side could clear their lines. Several minutes later, their hard work was rewarded, however as they again forged their way back into the International 22 and some quick hands found Greenwood for another popular (Goode converted) try for the H4H to take the score to 22-10. England’s World Cup winning centre almost had another within minutes, but after considerable deliberation from the video referee, the try was ruled out, much to the crowd’s disapproval, after Greenwood’s knee brushed the touchline. As the final whistle beckoned, there was still time for more action and another scoring opportunity came within minutes when wing Henry Barratt’s hack-on was chased magnificently by former Great Britain Rugby League legend Martin Offiah, who slid out of play and into the cameramen but failed to touch the ball down before going over the dead-ball. But there still time for one last score, thanks to a typical jinking run from Jason Robinson. Although he was hauled down by Logan, he managed to set up a chance for impressive England U20 scrum half Joe Simpson to split the defence and touchdown. And there was Lawrence Dallaglio to kick the conversion and end the match with scoreboard reading 29-10 in favour of the Help for Heroes XV. Help for Heroes XV 15. Mal Roberts (Army), 14. Mark Odejobi (London Wasps), 13. Will Greenwood (England), 12. Jason Robinson (England), 11. Dan Luger (England), 10. Alex Goode (Saracens), 9. Joe Simpson (London Wasps), 1. Nathan Catt (Bath Rugby), 2. Mark Regan (Bristol Rugby, England), 3. Tom Mercey (Saracens), 4. Rob Sugden (Army), 5. Scott Hobson (Bath Rugby), 6. Matthew Cornish (Royal Air Force), 7. Richard Hill (England), 8. Lawrence Dallaglio (England, captain) Replacements (all used) 16. Martin Johnson (England), 17. Tom O’Keeffe (Royal Marines), 18. Richard Matthews (Royal Air Force), 19. Paul Volley (London Scottish), 20. Martin Offiah (Great Britain RL), 21. Dave Pascoe (Royal Navy), 22. Dominic Shabbo (London Irish), 23. Gareth Leonard (Royal Air Force), 24. Henry Barratt (London Wasps) Scorers: Tries: Hill, Catt, Greenwood, Simpson, Cons: Goode (2), Dallaglio, Pens: Goode International XV 15. Justin Bishop (Doncaster Knights, Ireland), 14. Kristian Phillips (Ospreys), 13. Angelo Flammia (Royal Air Force), 12. Scott Gibbs (Wales, captain), 11. Kenny Logan (Scotland), 10. Rhys Priestland (Scarlets), 9. Guy Easterby (Otley, Ireland), 1. David Hilton (Scotland), 2. Gordon Bulloch (West of Scotland, Scotland), 3. Darren Morris (Worcester Warriors, Wales), 4. Gareth Llewellyn (Wales), 5. Howard Parr (Royal Air Force), 6. Dafydd Jones (Scarlets, Wales), 7. Colin Charvis (Newport-Gwent Dragons, Wales), 8. Joe Kava (Army) Replacements (all used) 16. Shane Byrne (Ireland), 17. Shaun Ruwers (Worcester Warriors), 18. Marsh Cormack (Royal Navy), 19. Mark Lee (Army), 20. Zak Feaunati (Samoa), 21. Micky Young (Newcastle Falcons), 22. Matt Rhodes (Royal Marines), 23. Dafydd Hewitt (Cardiff Blues), 24. Michael Stephenson (Bath Rugby) Scorers: Tries: Phillips, Logan Referee: Sean Davey Attendance: 52, 254