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By Tum Balogun
Two years after hanging up his boots, former Harlequin Jack Clifford was thrilled to be part of a team again, even it meant cycling a total of 750 miles in seven days.
The 29-year-old was one of several core riders, former professionals and rugby internationals who took part in the gruelling trek which raised money for children’s charity, Wooden Spoon.
Gallagher’s Road to Twickenham bike ride built upon the Wooden Spoon’s core values of Passion, Integrity, Teamwork and Fun, while aiming to raise as much money as possible in just seven days.
Wooden Spoon is the children’s charity of rugby, funding life-changing projects across the UK & Ireland that support vulnerable children and young people.
Their aim is that every penny that their volunteers raise is spent on life-changing projects in their local communities.
In the last year, despite the difficult conditions, they funded 43 charitable projects supporting 100,000 vulnerable children and young people. However, more vulnerable children need their help, now more than ever.
Clifford, who was forced to retire from top-flight rugby in 2020 due to injury, shared his delight in experiencing the team spirit once more.
He said: “It's nice, it’s the first challenge I’ve done since I retired.
“I don’t know if it’s made me want to do more or not.
“But at the same time, it was lovely to do that with a few guys and ex-players I knew.
“And [even] a few guys I didn’t that I’ve actually become good mates with, so it’s been really nice to do that and get to know them.”
The Australian born Brit, who made ten appearances for England, was joined on the inaugural event by some friends and foes of old.
Led by former Scottish international Nathan Hines, their group included the likes of Jonny Arr, Will Hurrell, and Charlie Sharples.
As well as Rio 2016 Paralympic cyclist, Louis Rolfe and former Quins teammate, Ugo Monye, who joined their ranks on the last leg of the journey from Newbury.
The Road to Twickenham, supported by Gallagher, took the riders from Newcastle to Twickenham, stopping at several Premiership Rugby grounds along the way.
The ride was organised to raise crucial funds for children’s charity, Wooden Spoon. With the help of the rugby family, the organisation funds life-changing projects across the UK & Ireland that support vulnerable children and young people.
As an ambassador for the charity, Clifford was keen to show his support and was full of admiration for the work they do.
He believes the knowledge of the impact their efforts on the bike make to the lives of many children with disabilities was essential to seeing the task through.
“Day one was horrific”, he added.
“It was one of the worst things I’ve personally ever done compared to any fitness test, session, match - anything.
“I was very close to throwing the bike in but when you meet kids who you can make a bit of a difference to, it makes it a lot nicer, a lot easier and it made it all a lot more worthwhile.
“If you can do a little thing for someone, even the smallest thing that’ll make things better for them, then it makes the sitting on a saddle for eight hours a day worthwhile.”
Wooden Spoon is the children’s charity of rugby. With the help of you, the rugby family, we fund life-changing projects across the UK & Ireland that support vulnerable children and young people. Text WOODENSPOON 10 to 70085 to donate £10 or visit JustGiving: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/gallaghersbikeride and woodenspoon.org.uk to find out more.