As Hartpury player Sam Leeming’s final cancer treatment was scheduled for Christmas week, his team mates were behind him all the way, having taken on a gruelling three-month challenge to support him.
Led by Max Clementson and Dan Murphy, a group of Hartpury University and club players had put in 30 minutes of strenuous exercise each day while Sam had chemo.
“We knew treatments and recovery were going to be tough for him and wanted to do something,” said Max. “His brother Tom put in a 24-hour row to raise money, so we wanted to do something similar. To give ongoing support, we chose to do 30 minutes of tough exercise every single day until his last day of chemo.”
Proceeds from the challenge went to Sam’s choice of a charity supporting him, and his family and, with conditioning sessions and strength training still on the schedule, players had no days off and also faced many triple-training days.
“I asked Dan ‘what about days when we have training on’ and he just said, well that doesn’t count, that’s our job. I thought, it’s going to be pretty tough but Sam doesn’t have a choice either.”
“Yes, Sam couldn’t say ‘well, I don’t want chemo today’” added Dan, who is the head coach of the Hartpury University 1st team. “That’s why the ongoing support was important, letting him know we were doing something above and beyond and putting ourselves through a bit of pain essentially.”
EVERYONE IS FAMILY
Hartpury University has had great success in the BUCS Super Rugby competition since its launch, and were the first crowned winners of the Championship title in its inaugural season.
“I think what makes our relationship with Sam a little bit more special is the journey that we went through in BUCS together,” said Max. “We were all playing together. It was also Dan’s first year coaching us when we went through a really tough time at the start. Then we had a winning streak and went on to win the title. All of us went through that together and we were really, really tight, the whole squad that year.”
This sense of camaraderie exists in every team in the club, which many of the players describe as the Hartpury bubble. As Will Crane, former university, now Championship player says: “When you’re in that bubble, everyone is family, so if something happens to someone, it kind of hits us all hard.”
With a one-club approach and a passion to succeed together, teams from across the club show up to support each other.
“You’ll see everyone working hard for that success. So it’s all happening pretty organically, it’s understanding what you’re a part of,” added Will.
In 2019, more than 50 players, club members and supporters took part in a collective head-shaving to raise money for Cancer Research, with new players keen to join in.
Said Will: “We had a lad from South Africa joining literally the day of the head shave and we asked if he wanted to get involved and he said ‘sure, why not’ he had loads of hair too!”
To donate, visit the JustGiving page.