Rugby legends in fundraising match

TWO of the great names of Irish and English rugby led legends onto the field last night for a major fundraising game for injured players.

Shane Byrne and Martin Corry captained the Ireland and England Legends sides at the Twickenham Stoop, home of Harlequins RFC, in the first ever Stuart Mangan Memorial Match.

Stuart, from Fermoy in Co Cork, suffered an horrific spinal injury in 2008 while playing for Hammersmith and Fulham RFC, in London.

He was crippled from the neck down. After spending seven months in hospital, he returned to his specially adapted flat in Bayswater and resumed life.

Tragically, he died unexpectedly on August 7 last, aged just 26.

Matt Hampson was paralysed in a training accident with the England Under-21 team, in March 2005. He cannot breath without the aid of a ventilator.

Despite his injury, Hampson leads a full and active life and is the Ambassador for the Rugby Players’ Association Benevolent fund.

In the months after Stuart’s injury, the two men became close friends, and often discussed doing some joint event, in aid of their respective trusts.

Both men never allowed their injuries to affect their love for rugby and life. The idea for last night’s game was conceived while Stuart was still alive.

The match, sponsored by the Byrne Group, was in aid of the Matt Hampson Trust and Keith Wood’s Paralysed Rugby Players’ Fund, in Ireland.

The Irish team featured Peter Clohessy, Reggie Corrigan, Victor Costello, Anthony Foley, Richard Wallace, Paul Burke, Justin Bishop and Rob Henderson on the Irish side.

England’s most-capped player, Jason Leonard, returned to his former home ground to line out for the English side, along with other English heroes of 2003 including Jason Robinson, Richard Cockerill and Phil Greening.

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