This year the Reds were invited to participate in an opening game within the World Club 7s which the team took up the challenge. The opponents were going to be “Rugby for Heroes” a charity that supported service personal from the rugby community. The R4H team made up from serving and retired players of the services plus a handful of international players were ready for the competition, coupled that with the leading or retired international coach Isoa Damudamu, this wasn’t going to be a walk in the park for the Reds. Plenty of new faces and old faces came running onto the pitch at lunchtime for a friendly game of 7s. The new faces wearing the red of the Army and the old faces wearing the camouflage of the Rugby for Heroes Charity. The game very much went the way of the Army young guns but there was plenty of fun to be had by the opposition.
There because they wanted to support the cause were 12 individuals who either originated from the Armed Services themselves or came from the world of rugby. Rugby for Heroes is a charity set up to help ex-servicemen readjust to civilian life. It gives them the opportunity to play rugby as an outlet and a chance to rejoin the community. Originally set up due to the link between the military and rugby core values, Rugby for Heroes combines the ideas of teamwork and respect with a community built on friendship and a sense of belonging somewhere. Several players jumped at the opportunity to represent them in the game today. One player was Ex-Gloucester centre Terry Fanoalou. Terry, who was originally born in Auckland played for Gloucester for ten seasons becoming a member of the then elite ‘100 leagues club’. He was a crowd favourite and an opposition scourge. Now, however, he dons a different shirt and takes part in a charity game on the big stage at Twickenham. “It’s a fantastic cause. These guys put their bodies on the line for us to live a free life and it’s the least we can do to try and help them.” he said “I jumped at the opportunity. If they hadn’t asked me I probably would’ve volunteered!” “Seeing the guys play, you wouldn’t be surprised to see we got a stuffing! [31-12] They’re fit lads and they’ve really embraced the game. Also, 7s is a lot more physical, but it was a lot of fun.” Terry is a fan of the tournament having come last year as a supporter of both Gloucester and Auckland. “To see both teams in action on the same day was quite an honour. To be part of it this year is even better.” This year was no different, even though he was playing. “If I heard Gloucester were playing I’d stick my head out. If I heard Auckland were playing I’d stick my head out again.”
Overall it was a great day not only for the teams but also the spectators who showed their appreciation and support to the Armed Forces and the current commitments they are exposed to on a regular basis.