Bosh Legends 36 vs England Legends 36
In aid of: The RFU Injured Players Foundation
The RPA Benevolent Fund
The Alex Bennett Fund for spinal Injuries
It was the American historian Charles A Beard who said:
“When it is dark enough, you can see the stars”
It was Jack Dempsey, the heavyweight boxing champion of the world in the 1920s who said:
"A champion is someone who gets up, even when he can't."
It was Winston Churchill who said:
“If you are going through hell, keep going”
and “Kites rise highest against the wind—not with it."
And it was Moliere who said:
"The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it."
In Alex Bennett, aka `Bosh’, Lymm RFC and the rugby world have a true champion; in February he couldn’t get up from a collision that fractured his spine whilst playing for Lymm against Sandal – to move his head could have resulted in paralysis. He could certainly see the stars – he was in a very dark place: just imagine being in a position whereby the only way in which you can communicate with your wife and children is by blinking your eye !
The way in which Bosh has kept going through his personal hell has astonished his doctors and been a source of inspiration to all with whom he has come into contact. He has a long way to go, but each day he soars high, like a kite, as he strives to overcome the obstacles that his misfortune on the pitch so recently presented. The good grace with which he has accepted his current lot in life just adds to the admiration in which he is held by those who darkest fear would be to be in the place from which he has emerged. It is for these reasons that so many legends from the world of rugby gave up their time to play in this match to show support for Bosh and for others who suffer a similar fate, or worse.
It was a glorious afternoon at Beechwood on Saturday when Nick Easter and Martin Corry led out their teams in front of an appreciative crowd of over 2,000 to jointly raise funds for such worthy causes. Martin Corry led out a team of England legends, including Jason Leonard, Jason Robinson, Kyran Bracken, Ben Kaye and Danny Grewcock. Nick Easter, a playing colleague of Bosh at Orrell, led out Bosh’s s team, which included Lymm RFC legends such as Chris Kinsey, Pete Millachip and Adam Fletcher, alongside this season’s skipper Oli Higginson and forwards coach / hooker Pete Allen.
Danny Grewcock was the first player to force himself over the line, following early pressure from the England Legends. However, with 15 minutes to go to half-time it was Bosh’s team who were in the lead, 5 - 26, showing that they were more than a match for their more illustrious opponents by scoring four tries. What a thrill it must have been for Oli Higginson (1 try) and Adam Fletcher (2 tries) to get their names on the score-sheet whilst playing in such exulted company. Jos Baxendale, the ex-sale centre and skipper , scored an unconverted try for the England Legends before Jason Leonard, playing on the wing (!), scored the game’s most popular try to bring the half-time score to 17 – 26.
Two minutes into the second half, man-of-the-match, winger , Jimmy Naylor (Orrell, Newcastle Falcons and Leicester Tigers) scored in the corner, before setting up Leigh Hinton (Orrell, Bedford Blues, Newport Gwent Dragons and Leeds) for a length of the field sprint to the line and a try. At 17 – 36 it looked as though the England Legends were facing defeat. If only Pete Millachip and Chris Kinsey could have finished off the moves that featured skilful inter-passing between Pete Allen and Oli Higginson they might have been able to boast about inflicting defeat upon a team with hundreds of international caps between them. What a good reason, perhaps, to finally hang up those boots ??!! Knowing Pete and Chris this would be unlikely, but seeing Pete, Oli and a rejuvenated Adam Fletcher in full flow suggests that Lymm’s future in National 3 League North this coming season looks assured.
In the match programme Martin Corry said his team would be out to win. They didn’t quite manage this, but three tries in the last 20 minutes, including tries from Jason Robinson and Ben Kaye revealed the competitive spirit that differentiates seasoned internationals from others, irrespective of age. What a fitting end to this match it was when referee, Trevor Fisher, blew for full-time, with the score 36 - 36 – a very honourable draw.
This event was Alex’s “thank you” to all those in the rugby community in Lymm and in the brotherhood that is Rugby Union, who have supported him and his family over the past few months. His wish was that everybody would have a brilliant day together and that the funds raised would allow others with spinal injuries to be given a second chance, like him, to fulfil their hopes and dreams. In February, one hope of Alex was that he would be able to walk his daughter down the aisle. Everyone on the pitch and on the touchline will take great comfort that this will now be possible, albeit the greatest credit should go to Alex and his wife, Antonia, for being the driving forces and motivation to enable this to happen.
Alex’s wish for others came true. It was a brilliant day. In some respects it would have been better if holding such an event had not been necessary, but given the circumstances the many willing volunteers who made it happen did Alex , his family and Lymm RFC proud. The obstacles that had to be overcome for it to be success pale into insignificance compared to the obstacles that Alex has had to overcome to date, but as the stars came out in Lymm (or went home) some glory shone all around.