Using a combination of fun and fortitude, AIG celebrated its partnerships with New Zealand Rugby and the Endeavour Fund recently.  Four players from the Māori All Blacks were pitted against eight elite athletes from Help for Heroes (H4H) Sports Recovery in a friendly match of wheelchair rugby.

The H4H Wheelchair Rugby Team, which included Bronze medalists from the 2016 Invictus Games, met their opponents at Richmond-upon-Thames College in Twickenham in south-east London, and introduced them to the sport with a skills and drills session. The Māori All Blacks soon experienced first-hand what it means to compete in the sport dubbed ‘murderball’ as they went head-to-head in a thrilling match.

Watch the Wheelchair Rugby video.

Stuart Robinson, H4H Wheelchair Rugby Team Captain and Bronze medalist at the 2016 Invictus Games in Orlando, Florida, said, “The opportunity to play any variant of rugby against the Māori All Blacks was a massive privilege. With their handling skills, technical knowledge and mind-set, it proved to be a good match up against our skills, chair ability and experience. To start with, it took them a short while to get used to the chairs and the many different aspects of the game. However once they grasped these, it was quite a match up.”

David Wiseman, Head of Armed Forces Program at the Royal Foundation, said, “I’m thrilled that through our partnership with AIG, we are able to offer these experiences to wounded, injured and sick Servicemen and women. It’s not every day that you get the chance to play against the Māori All Blacks rugby team, so we’re very grateful to AIG for this incredible opportunity."

“The Help for Heroes Wheelchair Rugby team had a fantastic time and really enjoyed putting the Māori All Blacks through their paces and teaching them a few skills. You never know, they may come in handy in future matches!”

Sarah Davies, AIG’s coordinator of the Endeavour Fund1 partnership, who helped organize the event, said: “This was AIG’s opportunity to celebrate the power of sport as a recovery tool. With help from coaches from H4H Sports Recovery, who delivered the session, we are proud to lend our support and provide this unique experience for wounded, injured and sick veterans and our staff, who came down to support and cheer the teams on.”

Stuart of H4H added, “Sport has provided me with the focus and drive to get out of bed and push onto the gym, even on the coldest and darkest days. To have a reason and an opportunity to perform not just in front of crowds but alongside other wounded colleagues gives me motivation each and every day.”

1The Endeavour Fund was created in 2012 by The Royal Foundation, the private charitable vehicle of their Royal Highnesses’ The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. It supports wounded, injured and sick Service Personnel and Veterans using sport and adventurous challenges as part of their recovery and rehabilitation. In 2015, AIG became the Endeavour Fund’s first Lead Corporate Partner and exclusive insurance partner for three years.