The Rugby World Cup begins on Friday and a dedicated team of men from Cardiff is on its way to France to enjoy what promises to be a highly-contested series – all while raising money for SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity.
Celtic Rail Rugby – as the name might suggest – was forged from the rail sector including players from Transport for Wales, GWR, Cross Country, British Transport Police, and myriad of trusted partners and features a good few veterans from all services in its ranks of players and supporters.
The club is no stranger to following rugby around the world. In 2019, a touring party of 28 players from Wales and England travelled to Japan for the world cup, raising £10,000 for that series’ chosen charity.
The club’s 2023 sojourn to France is the brainchild of Stewart Ekstrom-Gabb (ex-RAF) and a dedicated band of trusted generals including “tour journalist” Jonathan Edwards (also ex-RAF).
On why the club chose SSAFA, Jonathan says: “The club has two passions: rugby – which might not be a surprise and – ‘helping those less fortunate than ourselves…’ and we’re raising money for SSAF because since 1885 thanks to the public’s support, the charity has provided welfare and wellbeing assistance tailored to our Armed Forces community.
“SSAFA knows and understands the unique demands of service life, whether in the UK or overseas and in times of need, they help to enable the forces family to thrive.”
While in France, Celtic Rail Rugby will be involved in a three-team tournament with the National French Gendarmerie and a touring side from the USA, as well as enjoying the Wales vs Portugal and England vs Japan group games.
To support Celtic Rail Rugby smash its £7,500 target in aid of SSAFA, visit justgiving.com/page/-1682840665457celtic-rail-rugby. Fans and followers can receive updates on the club’s adventures on Facebook by searching for Celtic Rail Rugby.
For more information, visit ssafa.org.uk.
The 2023 Rugby World Cup starts on Friday, September 8.