Rugby veterans gather for charity memorial match

By Monmouthshire Beacon/Chepstow Beacon in Rugby

Will Copley Memorial Match

LAST Saturday always promised a feast of rugby as Wales took on England in Cardiff, but just as important were the games played on the Sportsground in memory of friend to many and renowned rugby warrior Will Copley, who passed away just over a year ago at far too young an age.

With proceeds from the game going to the Copley Trust and Ty Hafan Children’s Hospice, the games were played in good spirit by some 60 ‘veteran’ players who joined in friendly battle of 60 minutes action in three 20 minute sessions.

Included in the squad of many shapes and sizes was a most welcome visitor, Joe, Will’s brother, who had travelled from Australia for this very special occasion.

The 45 minute delay to the start, made necessary by all the strapping of ageing joints, was followed by a minute’s silence for all those members who had passed away in recent times, including life member and Druids’ greatest fan Ron Paul, whose funeral is Thursday 23rd February at 2pm in St Thomas’ Church.

The game itself was kicked-off by one of Will’s sons, Osian and then set off at a cracking pace. So much so that before players began to pant, the huge crowd was entertained to flashes of what used to be in so many ways, and without any hint of dirty play, as mature players such as these know only too well the importance of ‘having to go to work on the coming Monday’.

Much activity and yet little in the way of completed moves saw the first break fast approaching when local Monmouth stalwart Andrew Davies cut in on an angle inside the 22 to find flanker Stacey Edwards on hand to score what was to be their only score of the day. Prop, and big pal of Will’s, Paul Stockley, stepped up to take the conversion which to his credit went near to the woodwork, but a veil has to be drawn over whether it was the goal or corner post he so closely missed.

A mass change-over of players brought renewed enthusiasm to the next session and Monmouth were staggered to see an impressive break and run-in by a visiting prop forward over some 50 metres, aided just a little by defenders giving up any thought of a chase from the start. The kick succeeded, taking the predominantly Harlequins Amateurs and ex-Christ College Brecon visitors into a 5-7 lead.

The final session had all to play for but despite heroic efforts by all, the score remained unchanged, and supporters and players alike completed their day socialising in the clubhouse, sharing fond memories of Will and their playing days, with the financial beneficiary of everyone’s’ generosity being Ty Hafan Children’s Hospice via the Copley Trust.

It is hoped that this memorial match will be played annually for the new Copley Cup.

Photos courtesy of Gareth Roberts.

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