Rugby stars end epic charity run with match ball

The former Scotland rugby captain and Northampton Saints player Budge Pountney has completed an epic running challenge.

He was joined by other professional rugby players to run 86 miles (138km) - the equivalent of more than three marathons - in 24 hours.

They left Gloucester on Friday with the match ball for today's Saints match against Gloucester at Franklin's Gardens in Northampton.

They arrived on Saturday morning having raised about £36,000 for three charities.

Budge Pountney with dark hair and beard at the Saints ground
Budge Pountney was joined by fellow Saints players on the epic run [BBC]

Among those running with Pountney were fellow former Saints players Jon Phillips, Mark Soden, Allan Bateman and Brett Sturgess.

At the end of the run, Soden said the group was "absolutely exhausted but obviously we're very satisfied".

"We put in a hell of a shift and we're delighted everyone made it," he said.

Doddie Weir with short fair hair at a rugby ground
The run supported a charity set up by Doddie Weir, who died in 2022 from Motor Neurone Disease [PA Media]

Soden added that the going got tough a few hours before they reached their destination: "There was probably a moment about 4:30 this morning, because we were walking through the night so we had to walk for a two hour period as well as running the rest of it.

"We were very broken and tired and the sun was coming up and we all thought 'can we actually pull together and do it?', but we ended up getting the energy right.

"I think it was some toast and jam that lifted morale."

He said the group "got wobbling and limping on again and cranked it up and finally got back".

The run was raising funds for three charities associated with rugby players who were diagnosed with terminal illnesses.

The Saints player Tom Smith was an ambassador for 40Tude Curing Colon Cancer before he died in 2022, and the late Doddie Weir set up the My Name'5 Doddie Foundation before his death in 2022.

The third charity, 4Ed, was established by the Gloucester Rugby Foundation following Ed Slater's diagnosis of motor neurone disease.

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