EDINBURGH rugby referee Graham Allen could be left struggling to blow his whistle as he officiates over an incredible attempt to set two Guinness World Records on Mount Everest this spring.
Graham, 54, who has officiated at the highest level, including the Commonwealth Games and in the Heineken Cup, will act as referee during the LMAX Exchange Everest Rugby Challenge, which will set out to stage the highest game of full contact rugby and the highest game of mixed touch rugby in history.
The group, comprised of four former international rugby players, leading business executives and other members of the rugby community, will set off on 13th April and battle acclimatisation and an altitude of 6,500 metres as they attempt to raise £200,000 for children’s charity, Wooden Spoon. They are set to return on May 6.
While Graham oversees the game, former international rugby players Lee Mears (England) and Shane Williams (Wales), who boast almost 140 international caps between them, will play. Ollie Phillips, a former star of the international Rugby Sevens circuit, and Tamara Taylor, a legend of the women’s game, having represented England more than 100 times, are the other star players.
The money raised will be used by Wooden Spoon to help fund charitable projects across the UK and Ireland. The charity uses the power of rugby to positively transform the lives of children and young people with disabilities, and those facing disadvantage. Wooden Spoon has funded a wide range of projects in Scotland, most recently an advice and support centre for parents of children with cancer and leukaemia, horses for the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) and the Wooden Spoon Life Skills and Training Centre at Volunteer Development East Lothian (STRiVE).
Graham will be inspired by the passing of his older brother, who had been severely autistic since birth and sadly died of lung cancer at the end of last year.
He said: “My brother sadly passed away in November, so I’m doing it for him and all the other children, parents and carers involved in Wooden Spoon. Though we have got some ex-England players, as a Scot I will have to try to stay unbiased!
“There are some big egos and big personalities in the teams – there’s definitely some big desires to win – but we are all doing the same thing, for the same cause and the altitude will level the playing field. I think we have a really good group dynamic and the preparation we’re doing is helping to bond the team together.”
Sarah Webb, CEO of Wooden Spoon, said: “Every day, children and young people around the UK and Ireland attempt to overcome their own personal Everest. We are so pleased to have Graham on board, representing Edinburgh and the people of Scotland. The money he raises will help support local charities in his area.”