Arguably the showpiece of an inspirational four days of sport, Friday’s wheelchair rugby event at the Invictus Games combined royalty, sporting greats and a thrilling win for Great Britain in the gold medal contest.
Legends of the sporting world and members of the royal family lined up alongside Invictus competitors in the Jaguar Land Rover Exhibition Wheelchair Rugby Match, which saw rugby legends Sir Clive Woodward and Jonny Wilkinson going head-to head for the first time as managers of the two sides.
It was Wilkinson who came up on top as manager of Team Invictus, which featured His Royal Highness Prince Harry, organiser of the international sporting event for wounded warriors, Olympic silver medallist Zara Tindall and Rugby World Cup winner Jason Robinson, lining up alongside Invictus competitors Dennis Dencker, Dennis Ramsay and Ryan McIntosh, plus Great Britain professional James Roberts.
Dencker, from Denmark, described the match as “fantastic”. He said: “I’ve never experienced an atmosphere like that at a wheelchair rugby match. To play alongside Prince Harry was so cool and I love being here at the Invictus Games.”
Jason Robinson, a Rugby World Cup winner with England in 2003, said: “It’s been great to be a part of the Invictus Games. I can just see this event going from strength to strength and you can’t help being inspired by the men and women and what they are achieving. Quite often in life we have excuses, and these guys are teaching us that there’s no obstacle that you can’t overcome.”
The match, which also featured Mike Tindall, Dame Kelly Holmes and Denise Lewis, saw stars line up alongside wounded, injured and sick Service personnel from six nations.
Lewis, who won Gold for Great Britain at the Sydney Olympics said: “The atmosphere was incredible, I loved every minute of it. I’ve competed at the Olympics and to see the same energy for our fantastic Servicemen and women, and how they’ve rebuilt their lives, has been a privilege.” Here are the highlights:
The exhibition match, presented by Jaguar Land Rover, preceded Great Britain’s dramatic victory in the Invictus Games’ gold medal match in the Olympic Park’s Copper Box Arena. In a thrilling finale, Great Britain took gold, beating the USA 13-12 thanks to a last minute try from Charlie Walker.
The Invictus Games were organised with the support and backing of The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry and the Ministry of Defence. It saw more than 400 wounded, injured and sick Servicemen and women, from 13 nations, competing at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and the Lee Valley Athletics Centre, thanks to the Mayor of London Boris Johnson, the London Legacy Development Corporation, Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, DCMS and Sport England.