Nick Stevenson is just a regular man from Kent, but a superhuman effort from himself and 25 other trekkers has seen a rugby sevens record broken at the summit of Mount Everest.
In fact, Stevenson returned back to his home in Kent as a double world record holder. Not content with breaking a record for the highest point at holding a mixed tag rugby match, he and a few other climbers ventured up to 6,331 metres to partake in a game of full-contact rugby sevens.
The previous record was set at 5,700 metres, and Stevenson couldn’t have been happier with the record. Speaking to Kent Online, he said: “We did it properly, taking the posts with us on the backs of yaks, and marking out the pitch in the snow.
“We were playing in about two feet of snow on top of an ice glacier. It was very difficult to run.”
There was also a record for former England Sevens star and captain Ollie Phillips, who became the first and only man to get touchdowns in rugby sevens matches at the North Pole, Everest Base Camp and Everest Advanced Base Camp thereby earning himself a place in Guinness World Records
Do you want to know what it’s really like to play two games of rugby, on the world’s highest mountain?🏔️ We’re giving you a sneak preview of what went on during the trip, with a full documentary being released later in the year! #EverestRugby pic.twitter.com/HmSB2V7OAA
— Wooden Spoon (@charityspoon) May 15, 2019
Stevenson’s adventure took a total of three and a half weeks; mainly down to the fact that they had to acclimatise to the height. However, Stevenson and his fellow climbers’ efforts were for a good cause. They were raising funds for The Wooden Spoon charity, which supports children with disabilities around the United Kingdom.
Each of the participants had to pay their own £7,000 cost to trek Mount Everest, and also had to gain a minimum of £10,000 in sponsorship.
Stevenson continued: “I’m not really a rugby enthusiast. A friend was doing it, and I stepped in when they had someone pull out.”
In total, they raised an astonishing £300,000, but it wasn’t without casualties. Eight people suffered from altitude sickness, while one participant sustained a collapsed lung and had to be taken down the mountain and to the hospital.
Reflecting on the difficulty of the challenge, Stevenson continued: “It was really, really tough. It was like nothing I’ve ever done before.
“We had to take our sunglasses off to play the match obviously, and afterwards I had a day of snow blindness – the sun up there is incredibly bright, reflecting off the snow.”
The expedition was accompanied by a doctor, while four ex-professional rugby players lead the teams – Lee Mears (England), Shane Williams (Wales), Ollie Phillips (Rugby Sevens) and Tamara Taylor (England women’s team).
Phillips got his first touchdown when he participated in world’s most northerly Rugby Sevens match at the North Pole. He got his second when he took part in the then highest game of touch rugby at Everest Base Camp, at 5,119m.
He completed his hat-trick of touchdowns at Stevenson’s sevens match arranged by Wooden Spoon in Advanced Base Camp.
“The aim is to try to do something every World Cup year,” Phillips was quoted saying by Cambridge Independent. “Try to do something that puts the charity on the map and it seems to be now that method kickstarted on the North Pole of playing the most northerly game in history.
“Then, we said can we play the highest game in history? It’s worth revelling and basking in the success of this because it was no mean feat in getting it all done.
“People thought I belonged in an asylum at the start [when he first suggested it], but as it started to move forward, people began to think about it and canvassed it to certain other people so it got some traction.”
A class evening with Ollie Philips speaking at the fundraising dinner for Argentina 2018 pic.twitter.com/9CwgiCOtTP
— Sport | Lord Wandsworth College (@LWC_Sport) May 26, 2017
Phillips talked about the challenge of going up Mount Everest and said it was tougher the fitter a person is.
“You’ve got to be fit, but when I say fit it’s not like you’ve got to be able to get to level 20 of the bleep test,” he said. “You’ve got to be capable of standing for nine hours a day and walking with 20 to 30kg on your back. But there is no way you can prepare for the fact that you will be doing it with no oxygen.”
Phillips has volunteered as a charity ambassador since he retired from rugby. He had a successful career in both 7s and 15s version of rugby is the most successful England Rugby Sevens captain leading his team to three World Series Cup victories – including in New Zealand – and six finals.
Main photo credit: Wooden Spoon