Rugby Squad has flown into position to start. Spent the night in tents ahead of trek today

 Main Picture ‘The Arctic Rugby challenge squad’.

Four Scots are among eleven challengers aiming to trek to the Magnetic North Pole and play the ‘most northerly’ rugby match in history who began their trek across the frozen sea ice of the Arctic today (Saturday).
John Houston and Steven Turnbull, both former Scotland A and Edinburgh professionals, are joined by Andrew Walker, from Dumfries, and Fergus Davidson of Edinburgh. The expedition has been organised by veteran polar explorer Jock Wishart.

Overnight camp – on the floating sea ice

The squad flew to the starting positon after completing 6 days of Arctic training at Resolute Bay in Nunavut, Canada.
The teams led by former England internationals Tim Stimpson and Ollie Phillips, slept in tent last night ahead of today’s start. They face tough conditions with temperatures in the Arctic at this time of year are around minus 30 degrees Centigrade and winds adding a significant windchill.
The challenge is hoping to raise over £300,000 for Wooden Spoon, the children’s charity of rugby and its work with disadvantaged children throughout the UK and Ireland.
Each of the teams has learned the vital techniques they need to trek and survive in the harsh conditions and are carrying all their kit, food and supplies in pulks which they haul behind them.
Led by Team Captains Tim Stimpson and Ollie Phillips, the teams are hoping to raise £300,000 for.
In a message sent by satellite phone just before their departure Ollie Phillips said:
“It’s Amazing how well the guys have adapted and responded. Spirits have remained incredibly high – we’re working incredibly hard as a team and it’s a privilege to be out here to be honest.
“The weather looks as though it is going to be stable for us and hopefully we will get the green light.”

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Tim Stimpson, David Mercer and Steven Turnbull during final preparations for their Arctic Rugby Challenge

Rival captain Tim Stimpson commented:
“It’s a very, very harsh environment. When the wind does blow you have to look after each other. You can’t get frost bite.
“We’re getting all the kit ready because when we set off it’s us against the world. And, you know what, the weather will be in charge and we’ve got to really respect it.”
It is expected that they will reach the 1996 position of the Magnetic North Pole on March 30th Each team is equipped with a tracking device enabling their progress to be tracked online at http://www.arcticrugbychallenge.org/track-the-challengers/

After the teams arrive they will clear an area of ice to make a rugby pitch and play the most northerly rugby match in history. It will be a 7-a-side match refereed by former England hooker Lee Mears who is flying in to meet them. If they are successful it will set a new official Guinness World Record.

Watch the video update

You can follow the progress of the challengers on www.arcticrugbychallenge or on Twitter @wsarcticrugby and on Facebook.
You can give them your support by donating at https://mydonate.bt.com/events/arcticrugbychallenge2015 or Text :ARCT01 £2, £5 or £10 to 70070.

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