Ex-rugby stars put best feet forward

Former rugby players will be running side by side with business executives in the Bath Half Marathon to raise awareness of sudden cardiac death syndrome.

Ex-Bath and England rugby player Simon Halliday dropped in on the offices of Helphire in Lower Bristol Road yesterday.

The company’s corporate team will be joined by more than 40 ex-England and Bath Rugby players for the event on Sunday, March 19.

Mr Halliday played centre for England and Bath in the 1980s and ’90s, and has called on his old rugby colleagues to come along and make the day a success.

Among those who have already confirmed they will be taking part are England legends Will Carling, Jason Leonard, Peter Winterbottom, Ben Clarke, Paul Ackford and Mike Teague.

Mr Halliday is a friend of Helphire chief executive Mark Jackson, whose company sponsored the half marathon for several years.

This year, they decided to pool their efforts to raise money for Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY), which raises awareness of sudden death syndrome.

The half marathon will be a particular challenge for Halliday, who has been unable to run since he retired from international rugby in 1992, suffering from arthritis in his left ankle.

However, in 2001, he underwent a successful operation and said he finally felt able enough to consider running again.

“People think I’m mad, but it’s a great thing to aspire to, and has got me into training,” he said.

Mr Halliday and his team will be running in memory of Sebastian English, who died suddenly at the age of 15 while playing rugby for Haselmere RFC.

His father Howard English died in similar circumstances at the age of 32, also whilst playing rugby.

After the race there will be a reunion at Bath Rugby’s clubhouse for the ex-players and Helphire staff.

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