England coach Steve McNamara dubbed it the toughest 3 hours of his life, but the Engage Rugby League Rowing Challenge has hit the charity jackpot.
McNamara was amongst 150 people from all walks of Rugby league life to take part in the marathon indoor rowing event. And he took the individual honours rowing the 26 miles in just over 2hours and 54 minutes.
He was closely followed by Wakefield assistant coach Paul Broadbent, Craig Mosedale from the Giants backroom staff and Widnes fan Martin Bailiff.
But teamwork was key for the scores of other competitors with at least £15,000 raised for the game’s own charity, Try Assist, the Rugby League Benevolent Fund.
“It’s been a magical day, “ said Tim Adams, chairman of Try Assist. “We’ve seen athletes putting in some impressive displays. But just as impressive are the efforts of those who’ve hardly rowed before, but who came along to be part of something special.
“The atmosphere has been wonderful. Once again it shows what a fantastic bunch the rugby league family are.”
The team event was won by a side captained by the inspirational Steve Prescott, with Leeds Rhinos finishing second. Other famous faces taking part included Brian Noble and Justin Morgan, World Cup football referee Howard Webb, and a team of RL refs. Commentator Ray French also rolled back the years with an impressive effort for the BBC team and the RFL entered several teams from Red Hall headquarters.
"This is what we are good at as a game," said McNamara, after recovering from his marathon stint. "We rally around to help the people who need it. It's fantastic that this event has raised such an amount for what is a great charity."
Try Assist supports those involved with Rugby League who have suffered life-changing injuries or debilitating illnesses. All those taking part were raising money through sponsorship for that cause.
The individuals and teams had to row a marathon, 26 miles or 42kms, on Concept 2 rowing machines at the event at the Huddersfield indoor sports arena, The Zone.
“It’s the second year of the Engage Rowing Challenge,” added Adams. “And it seems to be going from strength to strength. Hopefully we can make this a permanent part of the Rugby League calendar.”
Anyone who wants to donate can do so by visiting rflbenevolentfund.co.uk and clicking on the "About" tag at the top of the page.