In 2008, during a match Hammersmith and Fulham RFC were playing in West London, Stuart Mangan was severely injured and subsequently died a year or so later.
Speaking with friends who were on the pitch at the time, Stuart (playing in the backs,) entered a fairly innocuous piece of play to clear out a ball and suffered a neck injury. It was immediately apparent that some serious damage had been done, and one of the HFRFC team who had some level of military emergency medical training took over.
This memory stays with the club, and particularly the Veterans, some of whom were playing at the time, and fondly remember Stuart.
After the injury, in discussions with Matt Hampson (a former England prop who also suffered a life changing injury) Stuart came up with the idea for an England Legends v Ireland Legends match the evening before the England v Ireland 6 Nations fixture. This has since become the Stuart Mangan Memorial Match, and is an opportunity for the RFU Injured Players and the IRFU Charitable Trust to raise funds to support players injured whilst playing rugby.Â http://www.irelandenglandlegends.com/
In an effort to raise further money, the HFRFC Vets team were invited to play a charity curtain raiser for the match against Bective Vets at Donnybrook Stadium, former home of Leinster rugby. Most of the lads took the Friday before the game off, and got to Dublin by 5 trains and a ferry, and obviously drank far too much Guinness the night before. I set off on the Saturday morning at 4am, arriving in Dublin at around 2pm with plenty of time before our floodlight evening fixture.
Of course the highlight was that the HFRFC VETS have raised an incredible Â£45,000 for the RFU Injured Players Foundation and the IRFU Charitable Trust, but there was one other treat…..somehow the Mangans persuaded the organisers to let HFRFCâ€™s captain, Chris Hunt, play the final ten minutes of the Legends game â€“ who now claims to have received his first England cap! Chris said â€œIt was both daunting and awe inspiring experience to be playing with such legends as Martin Corrie and Shane Byrne, but luckily I didnâ€™t drop the ball and made a tackle that counted, much to the dismay of my HFRFC team mates!â€
It is still possible to sponsor the HFRFC team at : http://www.justgiving.com/Fulham-Rugby-Vets
We look forward to welcoming the Bective Vets back to play in London again as the Legends curtain raiser. I would urge all rugby players and fans to remember the Legends fixture next year, and to come along to show your support and raise some cash for the cause.
The net result was HFRFC VETS won by 7 tries to 4 (39 -24) in a great game of competitive vets rugby. At one stage the match was level at 22 all, but HFRFC rolling sub policy began to tell on the opposition and HFRFC Vets ran in 3 tries to clinch the match.
HFRFC tries were scored by Phil Cheevers (team sponsor), Ian Smith, James Barton, Alex Neilson, Carl Jones, Stephen Murphy and an 80 meter swerving run at pace from Felix Whitechapel.
HFRFC Vets fielded Stuart Manganâ€™s 3 brothers, (Keith (IRFU Committee Member), Barry and John) all of whom togged out in Stuarts old colours, for the cause.
John Mangan at scrumhalf was made man of the match for some awesome play around the pack and for the fact he wouldnâ€™tÂ be substituted. The match was refereed by Eamonn Sayers, an Irish Society Referee, who is Stuartâ€™s first cousin.