On Good Friday, Jigsaws Rugby will take to the field against Rugby Against Cancer XV at Havant RFC to raise a pirate ship sized amount of money for various charities. We recently spoke with Mark Dunkley who is looking after the Jigsaws side to explain why he got involved and what plans the team has for the future in order to raise even more money for autism awareness charities.
Fill Your Boots – Can you tell me about Jigsaw and how it began?
Mark Dunkley – Jigsaws Rugby as a concept started many years ago for the desire to do something to raise money through a rugby venture. A couple of years later and a couple of ideas tried and not quite right, the guys at Rugby Against Cancer messaged me asking what the chances of pulling together a team to compete against a the Rugby Against Cancer team on Good Friday and I started to approach players and they asked what the cause was. I decided that we would try to raise money for autism awareness. After it was decided to attend Rugby Against Cancer I decided to see if there any other events we could attend to raise money. In doing so we have enrolled in the following tournaments, Vipers charity 10s, Milton Keynes social 7s, Mid west wales social 7s, Hamplified social 7s. We also have an invitational game at Cardiff arms park against the wildcats, we are also investigating a charity match in Ireland thanks to ex Wasps player Peter Bracken.
FYB – Why Autism Awareness?
MD – Since moving in with my girlfriend (now fiancée) I have experienced the worst that autism has to offer in her Son, Ben. Ben is aged 10 non verbal, cannot control his bowel movements, does not deal with social situation, change, diet is gluten free, dairy free, irregular sleep patterns amongst other things. Living with Ben has opened my eyes as to why awareness and money needs to be raised for the charity National Autistic Society.
FYB – How big of a support has the Rugby community been?
MD – Since releasing the desire to do this I have had over 30 ex pros all supporting plus many more, people think others with Autism are rare however there are more people who are effected than anyone realises. While my story about Ben is a severe case of autism there are many forms of autism that effect people in many different ways and we don’t realise how many in the rugby family are effected with autism either through themselves or through children / siblings/ or other close family and friends.
FYB – Can you give us more details about the match?
MD – From our side we have recruited players from all over the world who are based in the UK we have ex international representatives, ex premiership players, players with New Zealand provincial championship experience. We also have an ex England International Spencer Brown who has also recently been diagnosed as being on the spectrum of autism as one of our ambassadors and hopes to lace up his boots in support soon.
FYB – How can people get involved with Jigsaw?
MD – The best way is through Facebook (@jigsawsrugby) where all our news go on. We have all our kit available to purchase and every item we sell includes a donation to the charity.
Jigsaws Rugby XV will take on the Rugby Against Cancer XV at Havant RFC on Good Friday, 19th April 2019 as part of the Big Pirate Fun Day – All the info – https://www.facebook.com/events/283532899002775/