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Williams Rugby Fights Cold Weather For World Record

By Andy McKeever


Updated April 25, 2011 at 1:16 p.m.: The game officially ended after 24 hours, five minutes and 15 seconds - setting the record. Williams won the game 818 to 711.

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Breaking the world record for the longest women's rugby game is not easy; especially when Mother Nature adds snow, hail, gusting winds and rain to the equation.

The Williams College Women's Rugby team is battling Saturday both the weather and Keene State College for 24 hours to set a Guinness Book of World Record for the longest women's rugby game.

"Provided the weather doesn't get the best of us, we'll make it," Williams coach Gina Coleman said Saturday. "We certainly have the will and the stamina and wherewithal to do it."

The players started at 8 a.m. on Cole Field in the snow, but that switched to hail and eventually into rain while a strong wind tore through the field. After four hours, the players showed no signs of letting up – nor did the weather. Players were taking hour shifts on and an hour warming up, and a few players were examined by emergency personnel for fear of hypothermia.

"I have a small team in right now. We're taking shifts an hour in and an hour out," Keene State coach Karen Johannesen said. "We're using buses, cars, whatever we can to keep warm."

The two teams play a friendly game every year but this year they decided to shoot for the record to raise money for breast and colorectal cancer research. The game, titled Scrum for a Cure, received more than $7,000 in sponsorships and there are a few "sizable" donations contingent on completing the game that could bump the total to more than $8,000, Coleman said.

"It started as a small idea and snowballed into this great big thing," Johannesen said.

The game is being filmed and there is an official timer clicking away for when a representative from the Guinness Book of World Records verifies the record. The representative is expected to arrive Saturday night.

Area businesses have donated outdoor bathrooms, cots, tents and food to keep the players going.

"They haven't felt like they've been playing for four hours," Coleman said. "Their spirits are good."

Donations will be accepted until May 1 through the event's website and supports The Breast Cancer Research Foundation and Manhattan Surgical Associates Gastrointestinal Surgery Research Foundation, Inc.

More photos are available here.

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