Ugo Monye praises charity cycle for opening up rugby to new generation

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The Peloton of core riders arrive at Twickenham Stadium as they come to the finish of to the Road to Twickenham Cycle Ride in association with Gallagher in the build-up to the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Final 2022.
The Peloton of core riders arrive at Twickenham Stadium as they come to the finish of to the Road to Twickenham Cycle Ride in association with Gallagher in the build-up to the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Final 2022.

By Megan Armitage

Former England and Lions player Ugo Monye praised the Gallagher Road to Twickenham cycle for opening the door to a new generation of rugby players.

A team of 650 cyclists, including former Premiership players and internationals, took part in the 750-mile bike ride from Newcastle to Twickenham, stopping at all 13 Gallagher Premiership grounds on the way to raise money for Wooden Spoon and various Premiership Rugby foundations.

The cross-country charity cycle saw a core team of former rugby internationals such as Jack Clifford and Nathan Hines joined by 2016 Paralympic champion and track cyclist Louis Rolfe.

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.

And Monye, who was unable to take part in the challenge due to injury, credited his old rugby mates for their determination and resilience.

He said: "It's not an easy challenge and I guess most challenges aren't designed to be easy. The operative word is the challenge. 750 miles is quite one so to everyone who got involved it's incredible.

"Charities don't exist without the donors so for people to be able to donate their hard-earned cash to support other people who aren't perhaps in as great a situation as them is amazing and for me really symbolises what the community at its best is all about.

"For the children, money and the difference it will make for these kids gives them hope and access and a sense of community.

"I was fortunate enough to play rugby at an elite level for 14 years and community is something that I still lean upon now and am a part of even though I'm retired.

"Rugby offers so much more than just the 80 minutes on the pitch. It can help develop and construct you as a character and I love the fact that Wooden Spoon really hit the heart of those people who perhaps need that the most."

Monye spent 13 years at Harlequins and reached 14 caps for England and two for the British and Irish Lions in his career.

With experience and talent behind him, the 39-year-old is now a proud ambassador for Wooden Spoon - the children's charity of rugby funding life-changing projects across the UK and Ireland to help support young and vulnerable people.

And is confident that the work will prosper and continue over the coming years to ensure that all young children are given the chance to give rugby a go.

He said: "Wooden Spoon really is a charity that's intrinsically linked with rugby. That association and that history is unrivalled actually and with Gallagher, being a proud ambassador of and then tied to links with Premiership Rugby felt like a marriage made in heaven, it truly did.

"And to everyone that's got involved in the build-up to the biggest day of the Gallagher Premiership, it's been no doubt very testing, I'm sure they've had an unbelievable laugh along the way, but they felt over the last seven days what the players have felt this season to get to this point to be here at the Gallagher Premiership Final.

"You've got 13 participant clubs in the Gallagher Premiership and to be able to touch base with every one of the towns and cities from Newcastle to the home of rugby in Twickenham. It's what Gallagher do so well, is connecting the grassroots all the way through to the greats.

"Although this signifies the end of this one challenge. I think what it does is quickly turn the mind of how we can top it and do something different next season.

"So, although this is the end of this iteration of what we've already done, I think the work will forever continue."

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.

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