A south west London rugby club raised more than £6,447 for the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, £1 for every kilometre from Kingston to Minneapolis.
Members of Old Tiffinians RFC ran, cycled and swam more than 6,447km during lockdown, the distance from the side’s home ground to Minneapolis where American George Floyd was tragically killed on May 25.
The club, founded by old boys of Tiffin School in Kingston, began their campaign on June 3 to raise awareness and funding in wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.Old Tiffinians RFC by Josh Graham
First team captain Tom Carvill led the side to promotion to London South West 2, level seven in the rugby pyramid and the club’s highest ever standing, on the field this season and explained the motivation behind the initiative.
He said: “We decided to undertake the fundraiser as a show of solidarity with those protesting around the world and to do our small part to combat the systemic racism that pervades our culture.
“The Stephen Lawrence Trust is a wonderful organisation doing just that and we hope that our miles help in their endeavour.”
Social media coordinator Jack Corcoran came up with the charitable idea and said: “I thought the boys would get behind it and do the distance but nowhere near as fast as we have.
“I think the whole team has put in a massive shift on the fundraising front and it’s really paid off! We’ve had players and members of old, teachers from Tiffin, colleagues, friends and many more support and donate, which is great to see.”
Stuart Lawrence, younger brother of Stephen, thanked the rugby team for its support and donations.
He said: “Thank you Old Tiffinians RFC, it will make a difference. Now more than ever we all need to come together ensuring change happens on a global level.”
Nearly 60 members of the side have contributed to the challenge with kilometres being chalked up by club stalwarts as far afield as Australia, Singapore and Abu Dhabi.
The side have averaged 370km a day with most doing their bit by trying to get out for regular 5km runs, but some outstanding individual efforts have also helped boost the numbers.
Social secretary Pete Lehmann clocked a staggering 67km run – more than one and a half marathons – in just over seven and a half hours. While physio Dave Green has led the way on the bike with a top effort of 212km (131 miles) in the saddle.
By popular demand, the team are extending their challenge to include a virtual return leg back from Minneapolis and hope to raise £13,000 in total. At the time of writing they have raised over £7,000 and travelled more than 10,000km.
“The committee were toying with the idea after we smashed both our initial targets much faster than we anticipated, so we figured why not push on,” added Corcoran. “We put the idea to a vote on social media, which came back as a resounding yes!”
The club hope to reach their extended distance and financial targets before heading straight into pre-season training for a debut campaign in London South West 2.
Community rugby is on tenterhooks as teams await the green light to return to training amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The RFU has outlined three potential playing windows and their respective impacts on the fixture list.
But to put it simply, the longer the delay in starting the season, the fewer fixtures will get played at all levels – putting clubs under increasing strain.
Old Tiffinians were promoted from London South West 3 after finishing second in a slightly curtailed season.
And club captain Andy Blackburn is extremely proud of what he has seen from his team both on and off the pitch in recent months, as they start to get excited about the new season.
He said: “This season, the abrupt finish aside, was superb. All but two of our games ended in victory. One was a two point loss to the league winners and the other was the perennial bogey match – the first game after Christmas.
“We only had two players that played in every game and the depth of this squad is seriously exciting – we feel it is capable of mixing it at an even higher level.
“I always make a reserved goal for the season and as we are in the league for the first time it will be to stay up, however, with this bunch, I have a hunch that we could do a little better than that.”