Head for Change

The Big Rugby Swim

Two teams (Rugby Union v Rugby League players) shall swim The English Channel in a relay race with Sky Sports' extended 1 hour documentary ‘Rugby Concussion: Turning The Tide’ shown across Sky Sports channels and on NOW from Tuesday, 3rd October 2023
raised of £500,000 target
by 434 supporters
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Alix Popham, co-founder of Head for Change, has joined forces with fellow ex-professional rugby union players to take on ex-professional rugby league players in an extraordinary challenge in October 2023.

The two teams competing in The Big Rugby Swim are:

Rugby Union: Alix Popham (Captain), Ian Gough, Kieran Low, Ollie Phillips, Matt Dwyer and Ben Pegna with Coach, Dave Tonge (Heathwood Swimming) and Team Manager, Melanie Bramwell-Popham.

Rugby League: Mickii Edwards (Captain), Denis Betts, Jason Critchley, Mick Cassidy, Kev Brown and Cliff Eccles with Coach, Dee Harmer (Fish2Water), and Team Manager, Sian Rees.

They are swimming the English Channel in a rugby union vs rugby league relay race to raise awareness of and funds to support brain health in rugby.

What is worth noting is that some of these sportspeople could not swim a year ago and so the training has been arduous, with very early starts and late nights, as well as weekends away from their daily lives to ensure they are prepared as much as they possibly can be.

Although the English Channel Swim is stated to be 22 miles long, the varying tides, rough conditions and changeable weather often present a number of problems and can result in a much longer swim, with one person being swept off course and having to swim 65 miles!

The difficult conditions in what is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world make this a challenging event for the most experienced of swimmers and so the planned participation of these 'high profile' stars from both rugby union and rugby league representing Head for Change is definitely pushing these athletes beyond their comfort zones.

A window of dates for the Channel Swim is provided due to the temperature of the Channel (with the end of August to the beginning of October being the best time to swim) and the aim is to complete the swim as close to 1st October 2023 as possible, depending on tides.

The objective of the event, whilst raising funds, is to raise the profile and awareness of Head for Change - headforchange.org.uk and the plans being made to protect players and protect the game of rugby.

We are determined to continue to raise awareness and educate people about sports-related dementia in rugby.

With your support, we are fundraising for much needed research in the prevention and cure for early onset dementia and neurogenerative disease in the sport we love.

The money raised will go directly towards and is solely for education, care and support and potential treatments in rugby and we are grateful that you have chosen to #BePartOfTheSolution

About the charity

Head for Change

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Our goal is to create a safe space for our sporting heroes, past, present and future that suffer from sports-related brain injuries and connect with the best brains in science and research to make positive change.

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