PRE-SEASON rugby is not renowned for drawing the crowds, but this may be about to change as some of the biggest names on the Borders circuit are set to scrum down at the Haugh in Earlston to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital.
The charity match will take place on Saturday, August 11, at 3pm between an Earlston XV and Harry’s Hurricanes, a guest team selected by Radio Borders’ commentator and presenter, Stuart McCulloch, who will be packing down himself in the front row for the first time in 20 years.
A star-studded Borders select side is being put together with many surprises and the possibility of some Scottish internationalists taking the field too. Plus, there will be players coming out of retirement to play. Stuart himself will be in the Harry’s Hurricanes front row, which is worth the admission fee on its own.
As well as the rugby, there will be plenty of other activities. Guest of honour at the game will be Stuart’s son Harry. The youngest of four children, to Stuart McCulloch and Pauline Martin, Harry is now eight years old. At the age of 16 months, he was diagnosed with hydrocephalus (fluid on the brain) which resulted in the youngster having to endure numerous operations.
Harry has a left-sided weakness and is also registered as partially sighted. At two years old he was diagnosed with epilepsy and had to be treated in London at Great Ormond Street Hospital, where more operations were needed.
The operations were a success.
Harry has no more seizures, but he has lost the use of his left hand. The care and support received by the family throughout this time was extraordinary and Harry’s parents now want to give something back by raising funds for such a worthwhile cause.
And, next Saturday, young Harry will lead the Hurricanes out and kick the game off.
Proud dad Stuart said: “Harry likes his rugby, so we thought a game where he could captain the side would be fun, as well as raising money for Great Ormond Street.
“We would like to say a big thanks to all the guys that are turning out for Harry’s Hurricanes and to Earlston RFC who have been a great help with setting this match up. Personally, I’m a bit worried about the game, I have a feeling I’m not going to come out of it very well, but it’s all for a great cause and should be great fun.
“I certainly hope I last the pace because my shorts from 20 years ago didn’t fit me, so I have to go out and get a new pair.”
Some rugby stars will be coming out of retirement to take part, including Kevin Utterson, Kevin Amos and Kevin Reid, but current players of the calibre of Fraser Harkness, Iain Chisholm and Darren Gillespie will be turning out for the cause, and others will be announced soon, with a few surprises in store.
Earlston RFC president Stuart Matthew added: “I was delighted when Stuart approached me to help with this.
“As one of a small bunch of people who run our rugby club, and with the association of Stuart through his involvement with Radio Borders and rugby in general, I felt this was too good an opportunity to pass up.
“I felt the whole community and especially our club could get behind this and give something back as Pauline has helped us out on numerous Saturday afternoons.
“I would now like to thank all who have donated their time and given to us so generously and hope that many will come along on the day to help us and Great Ormond Street Hospital.”