A group of rugby enthusiasts took the game to new heights after completing a record-breaking charity match on Mount Everest.
Rugby stars including former England and Bath hooker Lee Mears and ex-Wales and Ospreys wing Shane Williams were among those taking part in the seven-a-side match, held 20,771ft (6,331m) above sea level on the East Rongbuk Glacier, near Everest’s Advanced Base Camp.
Teams battled chronic altitude sickness, fatigue and exhaustion to compete in the match, which raised more than £250,000 for Wooden Spoon – a charity which supports disabled and disadvantaged children through rugby.
The match was made up of the standard two seven-minute halves of rugby in order to meet strict Guinness World Record rules, and ended 5-5 after both teams each scored an unconverted try.
In doing so, they set a record for the highest game of rugby in recorded history.
Williams, who captained one of the teams, said: “In arguably the world’s most spectacular setting for a rugby match but also the most inhospitable conditions, the game was incredibly tough.
“If you ran during the match it took 10 minutes to recover.
“That said, everyone put in 100% and there was some great rugby played. I can’t praise the team enough.”
— Wooden Spoon (@charityspoon) May 6, 2019
Teams featured adventurers aged between 30 and their mid-70s and required all participants to spend two weeks acclimatising, during which they successfully played the highest ever game of touch rugby in the build-up to the main event, at Everest Base Camp, at 16,794ft (5,119m).
Match referee Tamara Taylor, a former England women captain, said: “The time spent at this altitude has taken its toll on all of us but the group summoned a second wind to play the game.
“The energy has been tremendous, with everyone rallying together to spur each other on and, even though we’re exhausted, we’re buzzing at the achievement.
“After days of having to deal with one of the world’s harshest environments, we’re looking forward to coming down off the mountain and enjoying the feeling of have broken two world records and raised a lot of money for very worthwhile causes.”
For more information visit everestrugby.org.uk