Those who took part

Whilst rugby fans may be mourning the early exit of the English rugby team from the World Cup there are celebrations afoot in a number of amateur Rugby clubs as 44 players have officially broken the Guinness World Record for the longest continuous rugby match.

The 44 players have kicked, tackled, rucked and mauled their way into the Guinness Book of World Records clocking up an impressive 24 hours 30 minutes and 6 seconds from 5pm on Friday 22nd July to 5.30pm on Saturday 23rd July 2011.

The match at Congleton Park broke the existing Guinness World Record of 24 hours, five minutes and 12 seconds by 24 minutes and 54 seconds.

Andy Jones, the organizer, who came up with the idea last year said “There are world records and there are world records. Some are silly while others are serious challenges. I think this one was off the scale in terms of being bonkers. All the players who took part are heroes. And we all played really competitively. It was incredible to see someone who had been playing for 18 hours sprint through for a try.”

While Congleton RUFC contributed most of the participants, players also came from clubs across the Midlands and North West including Crewe and Nantwich, Old Suttonians, Loughborough University and Grange School.

Players were divided into two teams: Congleton Bears and Mali Lions and all 24 hours were hotly contended with only 40 points in it up until 21 hours, both sides playing each hour as if it were the 1st game. Eventually the Mali Lions pulled away and ended up winning 889 to 715 – a score line which reflects the pace of the game.

“If you have never been through an endurance event like this it is difficult to imagine the emotional and mental challenge that it presents. Physical pain, exhaustion, cold following torrential rain, and injury has to take a back seat to make it happen. Running for 24 hours is exhausting, but add to this the impact and physicality of a normal rugby match and you have some idea of the scale of the achievement” said Richard Burkard, the team manager.

All 24 hours of the match were diligently filmed with 2 cameras; players pitch activity was recorded in detailed log books by a team of stewards; and members of the Congleton Cycling Club acted as independent timekeepers to ensure the result was recognised by Guinness World Record officials. A team of physios from Congleton-based Norris Associates, CTC and others also played a vital role; ensuring our injured players were able to return to the fray.

Nigel Brierley, one of the players said of the event “You have to stay focused on the goal. You have to put the hurt and the tiredness in a box and keep it stored until after the match is over. And then when the final buzzer goes all that stored pain and exhaustion comes out at once. You are flooded with emotion and relief. Being part of this enormous achievement is overwhelming and awesome”.

Around 3000 people will have witnessed the event; around 1600 points scored; 150 people directly involved in pulling it off; New World Record – 24 hours 30 mins 6secs.

Congleton RUFC will be officially awarded the World Record Certificate on 12th November 2011 and the achievement will be visible at from this date.