Townsend backs fundraising effort for spinal injuries

Townsend backs fundraising effort for spinal injuries

​Scotland Head Coach Gregor Townsend is giving his backing to a “truly inspiring” charity initiative aimed at boosting fund-raising for spinal injuries research.

Townsend will join others from the rugby community – including representatives from two of Scottish Rugby’s charity partners, the Murrayfield Injured Players Foundation and Hearts & Balls – at Merchiston Castle School in Colinton, Edinburgh next Tuesday (16 July) to provide a send-off to former Scotland age-grade No 8 David Millar on the fourth day of his epic five-day challenge.

Thirty years ago, Millar, who also represented West of Scotland and Glasgow, sustained a spinal cord injury while playing club rugby in New Zealand.

The damage meant he had to focus on a new life in a wheelchair and he has done that with such extraordinary zeal. Now a clinical neuropsychologist, his determination is to seek better treatment and ultimately find a cure for spinal injury.

In a previous fund-raiser, Millar undertook a gruelling 250-miles hand-cycle around New Zealand’s South Island.

Now, under the banner of the “Mighty 333” – which comprises a 300 miles hand-cycle, a 30 miles paddle and a three-miles walk – he is once again fund-raising for Spinal Research, a charity dedicated to identifying treatments that can prevent or reverse the paralysis caused by spinal cord injury.

His journey begins on Saturday (13 July) when he sets off from Newcastle Falcons rugby club near his Tyneside home. Destination on day one is Alnmouth.

On Sunday (14 July) he’ll then make for Dryburgh Abbey in the Borders, while on Monday he will depart from the Greenyards, home of Melrose, bound for Edinburgh.

His route from Merchiston Castle will take him to Glasgow via Stirling, while on Wednesday 17 July his starting point will be Scotstoun Stadium, home of Glasgow Warriors and from there he completes his hand cycle at Loch Lomond, where his 30-miles kayak trip will take place. His three-miles walk will be undertaken via a specially constructed harness and treadmill.

You can donate online to support his inspiring effort at and you can find out more about it, including his training regime, on

David Millar said: “It’s amazing to see how rugby gets behind one of its own. I enjoyed my rugby and am still a keen fan and so love connecting with clubs, players and supporters.

“Spinal injuries are extremely rare in rugby, but they do happen, and I really appreciate support in trying to find the breakthrough treatments that can offer hope to those who are injured.

“This challenge mans a lot to me and I’m determined to raise as much money as I can to help.”

Gregor Townsend said: “What a truly inspiring fund-raiser! David really opens our eyes and absolutely encourages us to think of what can be achieved. If you can help, please do so.”

Scottish Rugby’s welfare officer, Stuart Dow, former Scottish Rugby President and chairman of the Murrayfield Injured Players’ Foundation, Ian Rankin, and Hearts & Balls chairman, Kenny Hamilton, will all join David Millar on the fourth leg cycle.

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