‘I would do it all again’

“Friendships made for life.” That was the reaction from three members of the Scottish rugby family after they took part in a four-nations sailing trip across the Irish Sea.

Ciaran Pryce from Shawlands, Glasgow, Connor Hughes from Kelso and former Scotland hooker and captain Gary Callander, joined the Jubilee Sailing Trust’s tall ship Lord Nelson in Dublin for a five-days voyage to Cardiff.

The trip was funded by Scottish Rugby’s own charity, the Murrayfield Injured Players’ Foundation, as part of Rugby For Life, the initiative Scottish Rugby launched earlier this year with support for the well-being and mental health of the rugby community at its core.

Such has been the reaction from the trio that Scottish Rugby is keen to make this an annual opportunity.

Stuart Dow, Scottish Rugby’s welfare officer said: “The three former players learned lots about themselves and friendships were made for life with their peers from Wales, Ireland and England who were also on board.”

Ciaran, 26, who sustained his rugby injury almost 11 years ago, uses a wheelchair, is a second-year biology student with the Open University and is part of the GB Development wheelchair rugby team.

He said: “We really enjoyed our week sailing with the Jubilee Sailing Trust.  Great people and brilliant weather.  It was interesting to hear the stories and perspectives of so many other injured players.”

Connor, 23, was injured playing for Stirling University in 2014 and is now studying astronomy through the Open University.

He said: “I wasn’t quite sure what to expect before setting off.  I was excited but also very nervous.

“It was very hard but I would do it all over again. I met a group of people and got to take part in something very few get the chance to do.

“The trip has shown me what’s possible if you push yourself. I would recommend it to anyone.”

Gary, 58, won six caps for Scotland between 1984 and 1988, and in recent years has undergone surgery on his back, neck and knee.

He added: “The main thing that I gained from the whole experience was the reaffirmation that disability, as well as life, is not about what you can’t do.  It’s about doing what you can do, which all of those on the voyage are testament to.”

Scottish Rugby’s Julie Gemmell, head of HR, said: “We were delighted to hear the feedback from this trip and we’d very much intend to give others the opportunity to share the camaraderie and competitiveness, which was such a part of their experience as rugby players in the first instance.”

You can find out more about Rugby for Life here: http://www.scottishrugby.org/news/18/03/08/scottish-rugby-launches-player-welfare-programme-rugby-life

And if you wish to support the Murrayfield Injured Players Foundation you can get further information here: http://www.scottishrugby.org/about-us/charities/murrayfield-injured-players-foundation