Sedbergh School’s rugby teams, Sedbergh School FC, have donated £20,000 to Connect Sports Academy after their tour of South Africa was cancelled due to COVID-19.
Sedbergh were due to tour South Africa this summer and among their opponents were to be Connect Sports Academy, a South African charity that is based in Cape Town, helping support young local children, providing opportunities on and off the field for them to achieve their potential.
Rather than, as so many of us have, get downbeat about another cancellation due to the pandemic, Sedbergh reacted by deciding to raise funds for the charity that they intended to support when in South Africa and in raised £20,000 exceeded all expectation.
In announcing the donation Sedbergh held a virtual presentation ceremony (see below), in which one of the highlights was an interview with South African 7s star Seabelo Senatla by British and Irish Lions tour winner in South Africa, and a Rugby World Cup winner with England, Will Greenwood, an Old Sedberghian and now teaching at great rivals Wellington College.
Among the other speakers were Director of Rugby at Sedbergh Simon Mulholland, 2019/20 1st XV captain JJ Kouadio, and newly appointed 2020/21 skipper, Louie Johnson.
In his introductory remarks, Mulholland spoke of the great excitement that he and the players had felt about the prospect of heading to South Africa, the opponents that they would have faced, and their work with Connect Sports Academy:
“Every single time we’ve been to South Africa it’s been a wonderful experience both on and off the field. We love travelling to South Africa, for many reasons, and a big part of that is the fixtures…we love to test ourselves and play the very best schools in the world and we certainly get that in South Africa.”
“We would have had some amazing competition, in particular with Paarl Boys and Grey College, it would have been the first time in our history against Grey. The experiences off the field too, Safari, the people, the fact that we were going to the country that has just own the World Cup, what an amazing experience that would have been.”
“To top that off, one of the bests part of the trip would have been to connect with the amazing charity that we have supported…the Connect Sports Academy. Hopefully we are in a position to really change lives and change the Connect Sports Academy program’s ability to affect these great young men’s futures.”
From a rugby perspective missing out on being able to watch one of the very best in English schools rugby going up against some of the best in South Africa in Paarl Boys and Grey College would have been spectacular, however despite the disappointment of those games being lost to the pandemic it is a wonderful gesture, effort, and achievement from those at Sedbergh to raise such a sum to help Connect Sports Academy.
Hopefully the funds make a huge difference, and fingers crossed that at some point soon we will get to see the likes of Sedbergh facing up against the likes of Grey College, without doubt it is the sort of game that would see the full world of schools rugby sit up and take notice.
Video with thanks to Sedbergh School.