On a quiet suburban football field in Toowoomba last month, 28 Army signallers, veterans and Queensland Police Officers laced up their footy boots and joined forces to set a world record.
CAPTION: The Royal Australian Corps of Signals and Spartans Rugby Club members and supporters gather in celebration of breaking the Guinness World Record for the longest marathon playing touch/mini/tag rugby game. Story by Captain Evita Ryan. Photos by Warrant Officer Class 2 Kim Allen.
With a video camera recording their every move on the field, they played touch football continuously for just over 34 hours to break the Guinness World Record for the longest marathon playing touch/mini/tag rugby, which stood at 33 hours, 33 minutes and 33 seconds.
Despite suffering through unseasonably hot spring days, coordinator of the world record attempt, Captain Ben Seeto, said all the players and referees from the Darling Downs Rugby Referees Association showed exceptional endurance.
“Everyone had a blast,” Captain Seeto said.
“We made it to 34 hours without any major injuries. One of the players tracked that he ran over 54 kilometres while he was on the field, and others ran similar distances.
“Everyone was obviously a bit stiff and sore, but Redbacks Rugby trainers looked after them with their sports therapy massages and strapping.”
Captain Seeto kept a detailed log of every key activity on the field during the 34 hours, which was part of the evidence required by Guinness World Records.
CAPTION: The official timer reaches 34 hours as play continues in an attempt to set a new Guinness World Record for the longest marathon playing touch/mini/tag rugby during Queensland Mental Health week in Toowoomba, Queensland.
Every time a player or referee subbed on or off the field, a try was scored, or an incident occurred, Captain Seeto made a record of it.
“Anything that happened on the field was added to the log,” Captain Seeto said.
“After 34 hours there were 980 entries in the spreadsheet, including 841 tries.”
Like many great ideas, this one was born out of a conversation between two mates who wanted to break down the stigma surrounding mental health issues and raise funds for mental health support services.
Having experienced his own mental health issues earlier this year, Sergeant Michael Lawrence was encouraged by a rugby friend in the Queensland Police Force, Sergeant Trevor O’Neil, to come up with some ideas to support mental health issues.
“Initially, I wasn’t really bothered about it, but I was at a time in my life where nothing made sense, so I came up with this ridiculous idea to break a world record,” Sergeant Lawrence said.
“I decided that if we were going to do something, it was going to have to be big for what we wanted to achieve.
“We wanted to attack the stigma attached to mental health and, in the process, organising this world record attempt helped me get my mental health facing in the right direction.”
Raising more than $12,000 for Mates4Mates and Blue Hope Support Services, which supports current and former police officers based in Queensland, the players and their supporters were advised by Guinness World Records in early November that their world record attempt for the longest marathon playing touch/mini/tag rugby had been successful.
Guinness World Records reviewed the 20 gigabytes of video footage they had uploaded, which covered the entire 34 hours of continuous on-field action, and named the ‘Royal Australian Corps of Signals & Spartans Rugby Club’ as the new title holders with a record of 34 hours and 51 seconds.
The 28 players, which included Army signallers from 7th Signal Regiment, 1st Signal Regiment and 7th Combat Signal Regiment, and members from the Queensland Police Force, all had their own reasons for wanting to be a part of it.
“When you’re playing sport at 3am you end up doing a lot of soul-searching,” Sergeant Lawrence said.
“It was a pretty epic weekend and I don’t know how we found the energy to do it.
“I’ve got blisters the size of Africa on my feet, but we made it happen and we plan on tackling more world records to keep the conversation about mental health alive.”
CAPTION: The Royal Australian Corps of Signals and Spartans Rugby Club members gather prior to breaking the Guinness World Record.