RFU President Jeff Blackett and his wife Sally visited Saltash Rugby Club on Wednesday during their 15-day nationwide walking tour to raise money for the Injured Players Foundation (IPF) as part of the RFU’s official 150th anniversary celebrations.
The plan was to walk 10 miles every day for 15 days, visiting 15 different counties, and Cornwall was stop number 13.
It started at Jeff’s own club United Services Portsmouth RFC in Hampshire on October 22 and was due to finish at Twickenham Stadium today (Friday), on the eve England against Tonga in the Autumn Nations Series.
However, soon after leaving Saltash, Jeff tested positive for COVID, so the last stages of the walk have had to be put on hold.
Saltash were the only Cornish club involved and hosted the start of the Cornwall/Devon leg of the event.
Jeff was greeted by the Mayor and Mayoress of Saltash, Pete and Brenda Samuels; Hilary Frank, a Cornwall councillor for Saltash; and officials from Saltash RFC and the Cornwall RFU, including chairman Dave Saunter.
The walk followed a route along Callington Road to the Tamar Bridge via the town centre, and then across to the other side of the river where they were met by Devon RFU chairman Geoff Simpson and match secretary Maureen Jackson.
Jeff, who admitted he had worked briefly at HMS Raleigh in Torpoint in the past, told the Cornish Times before setting off from Saltash: "At the end of each day we are absolutely exhausted and then we have to drive from where we are to start the next day, and we get up in the morning feeling a bit jaded, but as soon as we come to places like this (Saltash RFC), we are lifted and off we go again.
"We are feeling good, one or two blisters but the legs are ok."
He added: "My wife Sally, who does a lot of walking, has done the Nijmegen Marches. and used to work for Walk the Walk, which is the charity which supported the Moonwalk in London, and I have often trained with her, but our hobby is walking."
Jeff admitted the cause he was walking for provided a great motivation to keep going.
"The fact is there are not that many catastrophic injuries in rugby, but when there are, they are awful, and we have met some of the people, and the stories they tell about how the IPF has supported them are really heart-warming."