Five members of Warriors’ Homeless Rugby team represented England in their recent Homeless International against Scotland in Edinburgh.
Richard Oxenbury, David Hale, Jay Francis, Nathan Collins and Kerry Simons combined with five members of London Irish’s homeless rugby project and helped England draw 2-2 at Spartans FC’s Ainslie Park stadium with Hale and Francis crossing for the tries.
In addition to representing their countries, the players from both teams were introduced to Frank Ross, the Lord Provost of Edinburgh
“The international match is the highlight of the season and, after hosting it at Sixways for the past two seasons it was great to take the players up to Edinburgh for the weekend,” said Warriors Education Manager Dave Rogers.
“The project is all about giving the players opportunities through rugby, so to get them up to Scotland to represent England and also meet the Lord Provost and socialise with the Scotland squad was a fairly unique occasion and a great way to spread the message of Homeless Rugby. The players have always enjoyed playing against and socialising with other Homeless Rugby teams the most, so these games mean a lot to them.”
Oxenbury, an regular in the England Homeless team and a stalwart of Warrior’s pioneering Homeless Rugby initiative, said: “The day was really good, the weather was nice and this has been the best international so far because the Scottish team have improved loads.
“The international match pushes you further than a normal club game because you are representing your country and want the bragging rights for 12months.
“Meeting and playing with the London Irish players, who are just starting on their rugby journey, was amazing. It was an opportunity to share stories and tell them where they could go in life through the experience I have been through.
“It was nice visiting somewhere new, and it made the game tougher as Scotland had home advantage and lots of people supporting them, but it made it more enjoyable to be with your team on their patch. I also enjoyed just walking around Edinburgh seeing different surroundings and culture.”
Simons had the honour of captaining England and lifting the trophy with her Scotland counterpart.
“During a game we are two teams but once that final whistle has blown we are a family. No matter what has happened on the pitch we all understand what each other has been through,” she said.
Find out more about Homeless Rugby here.