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Rugby stars Robert Jones and Arwel Thomas help raise £1,000 for five-year-old girl who dreams of walking

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: December 31, 2012

  • The Young Pups takes on the Old Dogs in the charity rugby match at Trebanos Park

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THE weather failed to dampen the enthusiasm at a charity rugby match which raised more than £1,000 to help a little girl realise her dream of taking her first steps.

Despite it looking like the match at Trebanos Park would have to be called off because of the relentless rain, an heroic effort meant the pitch was cleared in time.

The crowd braved the weather and welcomed former Wales and Swansea half-back stars Robert Jones and Arwel Thomas onto their local pitch once more.

The pair, both from Trebanos in the Swansea Valley, pulled on their boots and lined up against the village team to help edge Francesca Monks closer to her dream of being able to walk.

Five-year-old Francesca, from Bath Road, Morriston, needs to raise £55,000 for a life-changing operation.

Francesca, a Glyncollen Primary School pupil, suffers from diplegic cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair, but the cash will allow her to travel to America for surgery.

The match, which was refereed by current Wales and Ospreys flanker Justin Tipuric, helped add £1,100 to her total.

Chris Penhale, chairman of the Swalec League division three south west club, said the game was saved two hours before kick-off after players cleared the pitch after the rain finally stopped.

"We thought we had to give it a go. We had the boys there and because it was for charity we wanted it to go ahead," said Mr Penhale.

The game between the "Young Pups" and "Old Dogs" was won by the Pups.

"They won it by one try," said Mr Penhale, who played.

He said there was a "massive" crowd cheering on the teams, which also included Evening Post reporter Geraint Thomas, and Francesca watched her first live rugby game from the sidelines.

Entry to the match raised £700, with an auction taking the total to £1,000.

"The rain started but Francesca wanted to stay to support everyone.

"She really enjoyed it," said Mr Penhale.

It was the second time the club has held an old boys game, and when the committee heard about Francesca's appeal members decided to raise money for her.

An auction was held after the game and rock band No Sleep, also from Trebanos, played at the club. So far, since January, the appeal has raised close to £35,000.

Post reporter Geraint Thomas said: "It was a brilliant day and nice to pull on my old boots for such a good cause.

"The result was not important.

"It was lovely to see Francesca watching with her family and she won the hearts of the whole village.

"We managed to raise around £1,000 towards her operation and hopefully others will now come forward to help as well."

To help Francesca visit www. justgiving.com/francescasfootsteps

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