Christ College Brecon’s Director of Rugby, Jon Goodridge, and Christ College 1st XV coach and Housemaster, Gary Halpin, have been working together since September last year when Jon joined Christ College. Together they have presided over one of the most successful 1st XV seasons in recent memory, but soon they will go head-to-head as they turn out for their English and Irish teams respectively.
Taking place on Friday 21st February, the night before the England v Ireland RBS Six Nations game, this special annual charity match kicks off a weekend of great craic for English and Irish supporters alike as both teams compete for the Stuart Mangan Memorial Cup in memory of the talented Irish fly half Stuart Mangan who was seriously injured while playing for Hammersmith & Fulham Rugby Club in London in April 2008 and who passed away in August 2009 as a result of his injury.
Christ College’s Gary Halpin explained: “Following a tackle, Stuart suffered a spinal fracture and was left permanently paralysed from the neck down. He went from being a young man with everything going for him, to needing round-the-clock care and a ventilator to keep him breathing. Despite the challenges he faced, Stuart managed to inspire and touch all around him as he went on with daily life, taking each new day as it came. But on 7 August 2009, Stuart sadly passed away following breathing complications associated with his injury. In honour of his courage, Stuart’s friends, family and fellow players planned a charity match to raise funds for other injured players. The occasion has grown and grown and we now play annually for the Stuart Mangan Memorial Cup. It attracts a great crowd, raises money for a great cause, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every one of the Legends matches that I’ve been involved in.”
Jon Goodridge added: “The response of the rugby family has been remarkable since the first Stuart Mangan Memorial Cup game was played at The Stoop in February 2010. Thanks to fantastic support from the England and Ireland Legends, the match has continued each year, played alternately in Dublin and Twickenham on the eve of the England v Ireland RBS Six Nations game, to raise funds for charities that support injured rugby players. Gary has played in several of these fixtures but this is my first! It’s a real honour to be involved.”
Gary Halpin is a dual international sportsman. After winning four international U18s Irish Schools rugby caps in 1983 and 1984, athletics took over and he went to America on a sports scholarship. Whilst there, he won the American Indoor Collegiate Championship in the hammer and represented Ireland in the 1987 World Athletics Championship. Upon returning to Ireland in 1989, he joined Wanderers and toured North America with the Irish senior squad later that year. Twelve months later he won his first of eleven Irish caps when made his full international debut against England at Twickenham. He subsequently joined London Irish and was a member of the Irish team at the 1991 and 1995 Rugby World Cups. He scored his one and only international try against the All Blacks at Ellis Park in 1995 in Ireland’s Rugby World Cup opener. Gary also played for Harlequins and Leinster.Gary is now a Houseparent of St. David’s House, a boys boarding and day house for pupils aged 13-18 years. In addition to his Houseparent’s role, Gary teaches and coaches rugby and athletics.
Jon Goodridge spent six years with Gloucester RFC, making his debut in 2001 and scored 7 tries in 54 appearances for them. He then enjoyed a three-year spell at his hometown club, Leeds where he played a key role during the clubs National One promotion season and was first-choice fullback during Leeds’ survival in the 2009-10 Aviva Premiership. He made 18 Premiership appearances at Leeds before joining Esher RFC for a short spell. He then spent the remainder of his playing career at Bristol RFC. He retired from playing rugby at the end of the 2012/13 season before joining Christ College as Director of Rugby and Senior Sports Co-ordinator.
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