‘Through tragedy and triumph, Rugby helps to heal wounds’
Rugby, a sport where you play hard and party harder; Form bonds and friendships that last a lifetime and reach around the globe; Through both tragedy and triumph.
A casual conversation years ago between two groups of people will this year lead to a charity and a rugby team, both born from tragedy, linking together to promote the charity and raise its profile within the global rugby world.
12th of October 2002, Kuta, Bali, the whole world was rocked by the devastation caused by two terrorist bombs. The rugby world was also hit hard as some of the people caught in the blasts were players and supporters attending the Bali 10s competition. In total 202 People lost their lives.
One of the survivors, Polly (Miller) Brooks was at the Sari Club with her husband of 5 weeks, Dan and a party of 8 friends, who had gathered in Bali for the 10s. She was the only one of the group to escape, pulling herself out of the wreckage and running, burning and screaming into a nearby street. She was helped by an Aussie Rules football player, Noel Ferguson, who helped extinguish the flames. She was eventually flown to the Royal Brisbane Hospital, suffering from 43% burns to her body.
During her 10 week stay in Brisbane, Polly decided she wanted to create some good out of what had happened, “I was searching for something positive to think about”. She decided to raise funds for burns victims and subsequently set up a charity in her husband’s name, “Dan’s Fund for Burns”.
Although there are many great places for the treatment of burns survivors, once out of intensive care there was little or no support available either physically or emotionally for them or their families. The charity’s aims are to provide Burn survivors with ongoing support, resources and practical assistance, whether that be through direct financial assistance to them or their families, providing essential equipment, sponsorship for children to attend special burns camps and more.
Funds are raised by donation, with supporters undertaking many different challenges such as climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, walking the Great Wall of China.
Rugby has also played its part with the charity organising a “Day of Rugby” in 2006. The day, held at Cambridge University, consisted of 7’s tournament followed by an Oxbridge Legends vs. an International Legends XV game. The Legends team was captained by Nick Beal, with the likes of Jason Leonard, Daren Garforth, Chris Sheasby, Jon Sleightholme amongst the players turning out in support. The team was coached jointly by Matt Dawson and Scott Gibbs.
The Bali Legends rugby team was initially put together for a one off game against the Australian Barbarians in November 2003. This first Bali Legends team was made up of players from Asia and the clubs directly affected by the Bali bombings, with a few guests such as Australian International Warwick Waugh. Following on from the success of the 2003, Legends teams have been entered into various rugby tournaments in Australia and America.
Two Middle East based Ex Pats, Brian Jenkins and Trefor Elliott were also attending the Bali 10’s in 2002 with the Hong Kong Pot Bellied Pigs. They chatted to Polly and her friends on the day of the bombings, the girls talking about the fantastic spa massage they had just had.
After a club meal both Brian and Trefor were around 100m from the Sari Club when it exploded! They, along with their other team members assisted in helping those caught up in the blast, both on the night of the blast and in the days that followed.
Bali Legends & The Dubai 7s
Both Brian and Trefor were involved in the Bali Legends rugby team that was initially put together for a one off game against the Australian Barbarians in November 2003. To keep the spirit of Bali alive, Brian and Trefor entered a team in to the International Veterans section of the 2007 Dubai 7s. It was a team of mixed ability with a sprinkling of ex internationals such as the Welsh prop Peter Rogers and Taiwan/Australia/Hong Kong player Chris Gordon.
In 2008 a slightly stronger team was fielded culminating with the Legends winning the Plate Competition and in 2009, 2010 and 2011 being knocked out in the semi finals of the main competition.
For the 2010 competition the Legends chose to support the charity that Polly set up, “Dan’s Fund for Burns” and this will continue for 2012. The aim is both to promote and support the charity during the 7s, raising funds where possible.
Trefor Elliott – “We are not a massively funded team with all our players contributing to their own trip but whatever sponsorship money we have leftover will be given to this fantastic charity”.
“There are some teams within the Veteran’s competition with huge budgets for players and we will struggle against the calibre of players they can bring in, but we are getting better year upon year and we hope we can raise awareness and support of Dan’s Fund so that they can carry on with the fantastic work they do with burns survivors” Paul Webb, UK spokesman for the Legends.
With the assistance of a small band of sponsors such as Kevin Jones of Hyder Consulting, who has supported the Legends since their first year in Dubai, the team will keep entering the 7s and supporting the charity.
For further information on Dan’s Fund for Burns please visit their website at