Russell Dixon-Box a director of the Marsham Court Hotel in Bournemouth, has played in the first ever, Rugby Football Union Injured Players Foundation (RFUIPF) Veterans Day on Twickenham’s “hallowed turf.”
Finance director Russell, whose family has owned the Marsham Court in Russell-Cotes Road for more than 30 years, is a member of Hammersmith & Fulham Veterans Rugby Team – one of four veteran teams which took part in the inaugural event to support injured players.
Forty five-year-old, father-of-two Russell started playing rugby aged seven as a pupil at Castle Court School near Wimborne, and has played for Hammersmith & Fulham Rugby Club since 1997, when he graduated from university.
He said: “For most, including myself, walking out onto the hallowed turf at Twickenham was the highlight of a long rugby-playing career.
“It was also a truly great way to raise money for injured players and to celebrate the life of the man who actually inspired all our fundraising, Stuart Mangan.”
Stuart Mangan came from County Cork in Ireland and was a talented fly-half for Hammersmith & Fulham Rugby Club.
Tragically Stuart was left paralysed from the neck down when he was injured during a game for the club in London on April 26, 2008.
Russell said: “Following his injury, Stuart met Matt Hampson, (an England under-21 prop) who became C4/5 tetraplegic, after a scrummaging practice accident.
“They came up with the idea of an England/Ireland Legends match, in aid of rugby injuries charities.”
Russell continued: “Sadly, Stuart died in 2009, aged just 26, before he could see his vision realised.
“The first Stuart Mangan Memorial Cup game was played at the Stoop in February 2010 and the games have gone from strength to strength.
“In 2013, my team, Hammersmith & Fulham Veterans (over 35s), travelled to Dublin to take part in the official warm-up game to the Legends match and since then we have raised over £120,000, playing the warm-up matches in both Dublin and The Stoop (Harlequins ground in London).”
“We organised the inaugural RFU Injured Players Foundation (RFUIPF) Veterans Day at Twickenham with the help of our club President (and current President of the RFU), World Cup-winning prop, Jason Leonard OBE.
“Four matches were held, of 20 minutes each, with Hammersmith & Fulham fielding teams in all four matches (over 65 players in all) against teams which had been invited by the RFUIPF, all of whom had suffered catastrophic injuries.”
The four teams were Ealing RFC, Wimbledon RFC, Old Silhillians RFC and a Barbarians team (made up of all three teams) for an over 45’s match as the grand finale.
Russell said: “Being part of this ambitious event and playing against people who have faced enormous adversity because of injury was a huge honour and extremely inspiring. Over £125,000 was raised for the IPF and such was the success of the day, we now hope to be able to make it regular event in the Twickenham calendar.”
Russell Dixon-Box celebrates after taking part in the first Rugby Football Union Injured Players Foundation (RFUIPF) Veterans Day, (with his wife Katie and children Holly, eight and Humphrey, five).
Russell (in red headband) in the scrum during the tournament
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The Marsham Court won Large Hotel of the Year at the Bournemouth Tourism Awards 2016 and was a finalist in the Large Hotel of the Year award at the Dorset Tourism Awards 2017 and both the Family Business and Business Leader awards at the Dorset Business Awards.
The hotel also won the Business Engagement with Education award at the Dorset Business Awards 2016. Plus Silver in the Dorset Tourism Awards Venue and Business Tourism category in 2015. And Rosie Wallace was named Unsung Hero at the Bournemouth Tourism Awards 2017, for her dedication in championing the success of Bournemouth’s hospitality industry.