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Nick Stevenson helps set rugby record on Everest

By Alan Smith

Nick Stevenson has returned from Mount Everest to his home in Kent as a new double world record holder.

Mr Stevenson was one of a team of 25 who travelled to the world's highest mountain in a successful attempt to set two new rugby world records.

They now hold the record for the highest ever game of mixed touch rugby - which they played in freezing conditions at the Everest Base Camp at 5,200m.

Rugby at Everest (10645146)
Rugby at Everest (10645146)

Some of them, including Mr Stevenson, then went even higher to set the new record for a game of contact 7's rugby, played at 6,331m - the previous record was at 5,700m.

Mr Stevenson said: "We did it properly, taking the posts with us on the backs of yaks, and marking out the pitch in the snow."

But Mr Stevenson admitted that the quality of play was a bit lacking. He said: "We were playing in about 2ft of snow on top of an ice glacier. It was very difficult to run."

The trip, which took a total of three and a half weeks as they had to spend time acclimatising to the height, was in a good cause, raising funds for The Wooden Spoon charity, which supports children with disabilities.

Each challenger had to pay their own £7,000 cost and raise a minimum of £10,000 in sponsorship.

Mr Stevenson said: "I'm not really a rugby enthusiast. A friend was doing it and I stepped in when they had someone pull out."

In total, the team raised £300,000. But it was not without cost.

Eight people suffered from altitude sickness and chest infections and were unable make the final part of the climb to the East Rongbuk Glacier.

Worse still, one participant, Jay O’Malley, suffered a collapsed lung and had to be taken down the mountain strapped to a yak. The journey took 24 hours. He is still in hospital.

Mr Stevenson, 47, a finance broker from Addington Lane, Trottiscliffe, said: "It was really, really tough. It was like nothing I've ever done before.

"We had to take our sun-glasses off to play the match obviously, and afterwards I had a day of snowblindness - the sun up there is incredibly bright, reflecting off the snow."

Nick Stevenson centre with Lee Mears, Shane Williams, Ollie Phillips and Tamara Taylor on Everest
Nick Stevenson centre with Lee Mears, Shane Williams, Ollie Phillips and Tamara Taylor on Everest

The expedition was accompanied by a doctor, while four ex-professional rugby players lead the teams - Lee Mears (England), Shane Williams (Wales), Ollie Phillips (Rugby Sevens) and Tamara Taylor (England women's team).

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