Hundreds of former Wasps players have been reuniting virtually to raise more than £20,000 for a variety of charities during the Coronavirus lockdown.
More than 250 male and female players who have pulled on the famous black and gold jersey - otherwise known as the Wasps Legends - have joined a private WhatsApp group whereby members raise a toast to different causes every Friday from 5pm, while donating money along the way.
All proceeds have been donated to the Wasps Legends Charitable Foundation - a grant-giving charity raising money through the Wasps family for the wider community, and has helped raise more than £1 million for local and overseas community projects since its inception in 2012.
Four small grants worth £2,500 each are being made to rugby-related charities that are using the sport to make a positive difference in communities, including Dallaglio RugbyWorks, the School of Hard Knocks, the Serge Betsen Academy and Restart Rugby.
Recently a number of key worker charities were voted on by the WhatsApp group for more small grants to be made.
Peter Scrivener, Trustee of the Wasps Legends Charitable Foundation who also played for Wasps between 1992 and 2003 has been blown away by the generosity and support the former players have shown.
He said: “The WhatsApp group was set up by former player Chris Eke and has grown to something we are all very proud of. It brings a bit of light to what is a very challenging time for everyone at the moment.
“Maintaining positive mental health in sport, business and daily life is even more challenging during this lockdown, and as a charity we hope this weekly get together helps in a small way.
“For me, sharing a beer or glass of wine once a week via a funny video puts a smile on my face. Some of the videos have been hilarious.
“We have players in the group from every decade.
“This includes Mike Ireland in the 60s and Annie Parsons in the 80s, through to our World Cup winners Stuart Abbott, Simon Shaw, Andy Gomarsall, Matt Dawson, Joe Worsley, Josh Lewsey, Lawrence Dallaglio, Helen Harding, Claire Purdy and Giselle Mather. Some of the current crop including Brad Shields and Jack Willis are also involved.
“No word of a lie, the group generates around six to seven thousand messages a week with players sharing fond memories and exchanging some banter - so you have to keep up!
“The idea of raising a toast and donating money came from Lawrence and Mike Friday - who is the current USA Sevens head coach - who raised a glass to the Legends, and the idea of doing it every Friday developed from there.
“In recent weeks we have also raised a toast to Captain Tom Moore for his unbelievable fundraising efforts for the NHS.
“What has happened with this WhatsApp group proves to me that no other rugby club in the world has got what Wasps have got - once you have pulled on a Wasps jersey you become part of a family for life.
“Like a lot of other charities, we have had to postpone some of our usual fundraising events where we would normally raise substantial amounts of money, so this generous fundraising on WhatsApp has helped to plug that gap.”
Stephen Vaughan, Wasps Group Chief Executive, praised the Wasps Legends for their fundraising efforts.
He added: “To raise such a significant amount of money is staggering, and underlines the strong bond that exists between former and existing players.
“As a club and through the Wasps Community Foundation’s work, we place great importance on supporting local communities, and it’s fantastic to see the Wasps Legends Charitable Foundation sharing our vision in using the power of sport to make a difference to those in need.
“Everybody at the club is proud of what the Wasps Legends have achieved, and we are looking forward to welcoming them back to the Ricoh when rugby eventually returns to congratulate them on their efforts, and further strengthen our relationship.”
If you would like to join the Legends as a player or friend of the Legends please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the Wasps Legends Charitable Foundation, visit www.waspslegends.co.uk.