Located in a valley between four to five mountains in the northwest most part of Massachusetts sits Williams College. The location is typically an ordinary scene, but for one day, it was the scene of something far outside the ordinary. It was under the fog, hail, and snow that Keene State College women’s rugby and Williams College women’s rugby faced of in a rugby match…that lasted 24 straight hours.
It’s about now that those who follow rugby very heavily are protesting that a rugby match is only allowed to go 80 minutes, regardless of score. That is typically the case, but not for this fundraiser game. The idea for the game was to play a longer game to raise money for cancer. Originally it was supposed to be 12 hours long.
The game began in typical rugby fashion, being 15 on 15. After the first hour and a half though, three players had sustained injuries that would not allow them to return to the field. It was at that point the coaches decided to make some changes. Instead of playing 15 on 15, teams lined up with nine people on each side. Not only would this prevent injuries, it also allowed each team to split their team into two shifts, allowing the shift not on the field to catch their breath. Teams went out in one-hour shifts.
While not on the field, players had the option of lying in cots under a large tent, sitting in the heated bus, or grabbing some food that Williams College provided for the entirety of the 24 hour match. The length of the game wasn’t the only difference between this one and a regular season game.
“Today isn’t about winning or losing, it’s about raising money for a great cause,” freshman J.J. Desrochers said. “It’s tough to play for this long but it’s for a great cause.”
While playing for 24 straight hours is difficult, the organization of the game was equally difficult.
KSC Senior Meghan Ferchette came up with the idea of playing a fund raiser game, but it wasn’t until later in the process the thought of playing for longer than a regular game came to fruition.
Williams College, who senior Allie Crane described as KSC’s “buddy school” was the first logical call to try to get the ball rolling on the event. Once they were on board, they were more than willing to host and figure out all the finer details of the event.
“Once Williams agreed to the event, they were really helpful,” Crane said. “Leah Lansdown, one of their senior players, took the idea and ran with it.”
While originally the event was only supposed to be a standard 80-minute game, somewhere in the process of organizing it the idea of playing longer came up to bring more attention to the cause. Once the thought of playing a longer game came up, the women involved said they realized they had a chance to do something special. Because a rugby game ends after 80 minutes regardless of score, no one had ever attempted to play an organized game for longer.
Once this was realized those involved noted that breaking a world record would bring even more attention to the cause they were playing for.
“At first we were going to play for 12 hours but when we contacted Guinness they said we had to play 24 hours for it to be officially the longest game,” Crane said.
While playing for 24 hours seems daunting, the teams did earn five minute breaks for every hour they played. Those five minutes breaks could be used as soon as they’re earned or they could be held onto and used together for longer breaks.
“We combined a bunch of breaks around three or four in the morning and took an hour and a half break,” Crane said. “That’s when a lot of people got a little bit of sleep or got food.”
When all was said and done, the game had lasted 24 hours, five minutes, and 15 seconds. It was plenty long enough to own the world record.
The score, for those interested, read Williams College: 818 and Keene State College: 711. That won’t be what is remembered about the game though.
“We’re hoping other teams in the world hear about our game and why we played it and do something similar when they try to raise money for a good cause,” Crane said.
By the end of the event, over $10,000 had been raised for cancer, something everyone involved was proud of.
“I could barely move towards the end but it was worth it,” Crane said.
Donations to the fund can be made up until May 1. To make a donation, go to www.scrumforacure.org
Mike Steiner can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org