Rugby legends line up for city’s half marathon

A star-studded line-up of more than 40 ex-England and Bath rugby players are limbering up for this year’s Bath Half Marathon. Ex-England captain Will Carling, who was born in Bradford on Avon, will be among those taking part in the tough race on Sunday, March 19. Other former players in training for the event include ex-Harlequins and England prop Jason Leonard.

The sporting legends will be joining Helphire’s corporate team to run in support of the charity Cardiac Risk In The Young (CRY). The idea is the brainchild of Simon Halliday, who played for England between 1983 and 1992, and for Bath between 1982 and 1990.

Mr Halliday, 45, called on his old rugby pals to come along and help make the day a success. The first part of the fund- raiser will see Mr Halliday and some of his old rugby mates take part in the half marathon. After the run, there will be a reunion at Bath Rugby’s clubhouse.

Mr Halliday (left, in his playing days) was

inspired to raise money for CRY following the deaths of two players.

He said: “I coached the club Esher after I retired from international rugby.

“During a training session in 1994, a friend of mine, Howard English, who played for the team, suddenly collapsed and died of an unknown heart condition.”

Ten years later, Mr English’s 15-year-old son Sebastian suddenly collapsed and died of an undetected heart condition while also playing rugby.

“It was only some weeks and months afterwards that they made a link between Howard’s heart condition and Sebastian,” explained Mr Halliday.

The half marathon runners will raise money for the Sebastian English Memorial Fund – which is part of CRY – in memory of the teenager and his father.

Mr Halliday said: “Quite simply, screening saves lives, and raising money for CRY will allow more equipment to be purchased, more awareness to be raised, more research to be funded and more young lives to be saved.”

Mark Jackson, chief executive of Bath-based company Helphire, will also be lacing up his running shoes for the team. Mr Jackson, a friend of Mr Halliday’s, told how his 17- year-old son Edward had been screened by a nurse from CRY at Millfield School.

He said: “The nurse went to his school and all the boys and girls who wanted the screening had it done. Edward was fine.

“We are very pleased to be supporting the effort, and we hope that everybody in Bath will come along and cheer them on.”

Sports presenter John Inverdale, a CRY patron, will be taking part in the event as well.