Sussex rugby gives thanks to emegency services with special match

Across the country, after 18 months, full contact rugby is being played again.

The Sussex Invitation and Emergency Services teams
The Sussex Invitation and Emergency Services teams

Over 500 clubs have joined the RFU in its return to rugby initiative entitled ‘Pitch up for Rugby’. All around the county, Sussex’s 35 clubs are back and playing – creating fun for boys and girls, men and women.

East Grinstead RFC was the setting for a wonderful day of community rugby.

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Sussex RFU wanted a platform whereby it could thank the frontline workers whose commitment and professionalism was the only defence against the first wave of Covid-19. While we banged our saucepans, nurses, doctors, paramedics, police officers and firefighters protected us.

In time we may forget social distancing, washing our hands and wearing masks, but we should never forget or take for granted the dedication of this cohort.

On the day, the Emergency Services were pitched against a Sussex Invitation team. Many of the latter were friends or colleagues of Matt Ratana, tragically killed in September 2020 whilst serving as a policeman in Croydon.

The game was won by the Sussex Invitation XV 52-29. The victorious captain was nurse Charlie Rumary. Emergency Services were led by Sussex police officer Tom Walker

The day was made extra special by the presence of Chief Constable Jo Shiner and Chief Fire Officer Sabrina Cohen-Hatton along with their families. Both were presented to the teams before the match.

When not watching the match, both also cheered up injured players, created new relationships with the rugby community and provided some inspiration to Jo Cox, captain of East Grinstead women’s team.

Previously, East Grinstead played host to Croydon RFC and John Fisher OB. These matches were initiated by the Matt Ratana Foundation. Both clubs are from the area where Matt died.

The Foundation is looking to promote rugby in these areas to offer young people alternatives to the knife gangs.

Its next phase is to deliver engaging camps throughout Sussex helping younger people in need of a focus in their lives.

Sussex RFU wishes to thank all the unsung heroes who made the day so successful.