THEY are a rugby team with a difference – their goal is not to win but to raise awareness.
The Crusaders RFC, made up of players who have suffered from cancer or have a loved one who has, aim to encourage men to check for the warning signs.
Plugging the slogan “Play Rugby, Tackle Cancer”, the team hope to conquer the Melrose Vets tournament this Friday and encourage men to “have the balls” to face the problem.
Players, including former Scottish internationalist Dave Mcivor, are set to battle 11 other teams in the day-long event ahead of the Melrose Sevens tournament at the weekend.
Ex-Currie player Duncan Wilson, who suffered a tumour in his brain, explained that the Crusaders aimed to play “good, old-fashioned” games of rugby, while highlighting the need for men to check for testicular lumps and not shy away from visiting the doctors.
The 43-year-old, who is currently undergoing radiotherapy for his tumour, said: “It’s for the over-35s to have a run about, to get their boots on and have fun, but there’s the serious point to it.
“We’ve tried to put together a team where a lot of the players have experienced testicular or prostate cancer, or perhaps a loved one of theirs has experienced a type of cancer. There will also be a lot of supporters at the sidelines who are simply too ill to play.
“We’re desperate to raise awareness of the condition, although we are trying to keep it light-hearted. Most of our sponsors have a theme, and we’ve got companies such as Bawbags Underwear, The Big Chopper [chopping boards] and Well Hung and Tender beef involved.
“We just want guys to get checking themselves in the shower and stress that, if something doesn’t feel quite right, go to the doctors rather than ignoring it. Women tend to go to the doctors, but men put it off, avoiding the awkward questions and discussions.”
Mr Wilson, from Livingston, who found out about his tumour in July 2010, added: “We’re hoping to set up some other teams – a kids one and ladies team – in the next few months so we can push the message.”
Mark Dainter, 43, who suffered a tumour in his chest and also helped organise the team, said: “Men don’t like talking about cancer in this country – we live by some very Victorian principles – but men are embarrassing themselves to death. Knowing just a little bit more about it, checking for lumps and watching out for symptoms such as struggling to go to the toilet, makes a huge amount of difference.”