Ben will be running for the RFU’s Injured Player Foundation but will also be raising money for Banbury’s Player Welfare Fund. We caught up with Ben to find out how training was going and how we can help support Ben!
Tell us a bit about your time at Banbury Rugby Club:
I've been a member of Banbury rugby club for the last ten years. As a player I worked my way up to the heady heights of the 2’s for a season before finding my level with the Wanderers and Old Nicks. General old age, fragility and a winger's aversion to tackling ruled me out of 15s three years ago, at which point I discovered the O2 Touch league. The sport is perfect for me - mixed ability, non-contact and fast paced; what's not to love! Last season I was voted Player of the Year and top try scorer, for which I was very grateful! I can't sing Touch's praises highly enough; it has kept me involved in the sport I love long beyond my best-by date.
I've also coached Age Grade rugby at Banbury for both my sons over the last ten years. Sunday mornings would not be Sunday mornings without pulling on the red top and shouting (encouragingly) at kids! Our U12’s age group is coming to the end of their highly successful minis rugby journey, and we can't wait to go out with a flourish; organising what we hope will be the best ever Minis Rugby Tournament!
How is the training going?
I was pretty late to party for this year's marathon. I was unsuccessful in the London ballot, and in the charity ballot following that. It was only an email from England Rugby over the Christmas break that drew my attention to them still having places available. Within a week I'd got the confirmation of my place, with less than 100 days to train, and a whopping £2,000 to fundraise. That's three months behind everyone else who'd be running! Anyway, anyone who knows me, or who's played with me would agree that I'm built for speed, not stamina. The prospect of 26.2 miles is keeping me up at night. Training has been slow and painful so far (the temptation to keep playing rugby instead of going for a long run isn't helping!). I should be averaging 30-odd miles a week, but I'm lucky if I scrape together half of that. It's going to be a long road!
Why did you choose to run for the IPF and Banbury’s Player Welfare Fund?
As a lifelong rugby player, I’ve had some amazing experiences on-field and off, made lifelong friends and, given that it’s a contact sport, had my fair share of knocks and bangs – none of which have been too bad fortunately. Sadly, as we've seen at BRUFC this season especially, serious injuries do happen in rugby. When it happens, it is amazing to know that there is an organisation that will look after you – and these wonderful people are the RFU’s Injured Players Foundation - England Rugby’s official charity. Having rugby in my blood, I'm honoured to have been selected to run for the IPF in the 2019 London Marathon. The IPF provide support and information to rugby players in England who sustain a catastrophic spinal cord injury or traumatic brain injury playing the game and help prevent future injuries through research and education. For more information about the IPF, visit https://www.rfuipf.org.uk/
Finally, how can people help support you?
As of January, alongside training to run the 2019 London Marathon, I also have a fundraising target of £2k to raise for the Injured Players Foundation.
Donating to the foundation is easy, please go to my charity giving page; https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/BenBlackburn6. Alternatively, I hope to be putting on a number of events at the Rugby Club this spring where I'll be auctioning off rugby memorabilia and as many donated items as I can lay my hands on. If anyone in the BRUFC family wants to donate something to the auction, it would be hugely appreciated! Drop me a line at email@example.com
Ben has been asked by the RFU fundraising team if he would like to be a flag bearer at this weekends England vs France game so keep an eye out for Ben who will be at Twickenham this Sunday. He’s also promised to try his best to wear as many Banbury things as he can so keep your eyes peeled!
From everyone at Banbury RUFC we wish Ben all the best with his training and will all be following closely. Good luck Ben!