Delivering the World Cup on home soil stands as England's biggest challenge in 2015 and two former Red Rose stars are looking to inspire Stuart Lancaster's men with a world record that will see them take rugby to the North Pole.Former Leicester Tigers full-back Tim Stimpson and ex-England 7s winger Ollie Phillips will captain two teams on an expedition to the Arctic to raise money for Wooden Spoon, the children’s charity of rugby. If the threat of -50°C cold, thinning ice and polar bears weren’t taxing enough, the 14-man team will attempt to rewrite the record books after a 100-mile trek by playing the most northerly game of rugby. The project aims to raise £300,000, which will go directly towards helping disadvantaged children and young people throughout the UK and Ireland. The group spent last weekend in Wales scaling sand dunes, getting to grips with GPS navigation and building morale as their training intensified, leaving Stimpson to suggest the scale of the task is starting to hit home. “I’m starting to realise just how hard it is going to be,” he said. “Travelling 100 miles very slowly around a lot of ice and rocks won’t be easy. “I fell in the river, ran up a big sand dune and have been pulling a sled all day – it has helped to simulate how difficult it will be to move on the snow and ice. “We spend the night under canvas altogether preparing for what we have committed to. “It’s a fantastic charity and a fantastic cause so all the stiff calves and cramping in the night is all worthwhile. “This is the biggest challenge we have ever gone after with Wooden Spoon and it is going to take a lot from us to make it happen.” The session marked the last block of training they will have before departing for the Magnetic North Pole on April 15, where they will be guided by world-class polar adventurer, Jock Wishart. Another familiar face to England fans in Lee Mears, the former Bath hooker, will referee the match but Phillips believes just getting there will be an incredible achievement in itself. “We were only in Wales, granted it’s January and cold, but at -50°C in the North Pole it will be a different story,” he said. “We need to be able to work together as a team so that when we are up there everybody knows how one another works and to make sure we all stick together. “I am hoping my boys can do the stuff at the North Pole but while we are all going to competitive we need to make sure we get their safely firstly and that will be the biggest challenge. “Nobody really has any experience bar Jock as to what is coming and when we get there the game will be fun but we need to know what we are doing and that we are safe. “To be part of such a momentous occasion, a world record attempt and then to raise a serious amount of money is fantastic.” The Arctic Rugby Challenge 2015 is Wooden Spoon’s most extreme challenge to date. The public can get involved in the conversation by tweeting @wsarcticchallenge and tweet messages of support to each team using the hashtags #teamtim and #teamollie – for more information visit http://www.arcticrugbychallenge.org/
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