Richmond RFC skipper Will Warden to lead club on charity bike ride to Paris in memory of young star

After confirming their status as a Championship side last season, some Richmond RFC players will be spending the buildup to the new season on a charity bike ride to France in honour of a star player who died in a car crash.

While most of the team will be taking advantage of a brand new strength and conditioning team, skipper Will Warden and seven others are heading off on a 200 mile bike ride to Paris on July 6.

The ride from Richmond to France’s capital is in memory of Sebastian Adeniran-Olule, a former star player who passed away in May 2016.

“It was tough,” said captain Warden.

“It’s a strange one because it was right at the end of the season so you don’t really notice it until pre-season and all of a sudden it hits home.

“When you’re in a rugby community you not only lose a friend but a member of your family as well and a lot of people get behind that.”

A talented pupil of Whitgift School and Wellington College, Sebastian was just 20-years-old when he was involved in a road traffic collision that saw him lose his life.

He had been a member of Harlequins’ academy system and represented the England U20 side that reached the World Championship final in 2015.

The front row forward also played a huge role in Richmond’s promotion to the second tier of English rugby last season and the squad is determined his contribution will not go unmarked.

“Last season we had a fantastic year despite missing him,” he said.

“But to sit there and not do anything wouldn’t be right in his memory.

“It had to have an aerobic base as it is a week into the off field stuff. That’s how we sold it to the S&C team.”

Setting up a JustGiving page for their two-day endurance cycle to Paris, the team have already raised more than £2,000 for the Harlequins Foundation, surpassing their £500 target.

“So far the response has been great. We really didn’t know what to expect,” he said.

“We thought we might get some cash for it potentially and we’ve been quite overwhelmed so far.”

Jack Allcock, a current player who is also cycling to France, said: “The fee we have raised so far was really unexpected.

“It just shows that the support for Seb and his charity in and around the club is huge.”

In preparation for the trip, Warden admits their main experience only comes from cycling to work in London, but if they manage to get there in one piece it could become a yearly event.

“A couple of the guys are a bit far north of 100kg so there’s going to be some tough times,” he said.

“It depends how it goes and how much support we receive. There might be an idea to cycle to other venues or do other types of long distance challenges.”

Allcock said: “I’ve never done anything like 70 miles a day or so but I’ll back myself to get through it.

“We could also look at different kinds of routes, but we’ll see how this one goes first.”

To donate, visit their fundraising page.

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