Sherwood Wolf Hunt RLFC, without a Premier Team fixture, took the opportunity for a development and fundraising game against a mix of Mansfield Woodhouse, Woodhouse Giants and other local team rugby team players.
In the evening Debdale and the Wolf Hunt hosted a charity comedy evening with a sports raffle and auction.
Funds raised from the event will contribute to the Francis Appleton Rehabilitation fund, set up by RLCares, the Rugby Football League benevolent fund.
Francis suffered a serious neck injury during the side’s last outing.
Francis Appleton was in attendance early on in the evening and was touched by the generosity of the crowd and donors.
He said: “I am so very grateful to everyone involved. The past week has been very traumatic for my family and me.
I have been very lucky and tonight has made me realise that the rugby fraternity is a very caring community and I am grateful for all the love and support we have had.’.
Co-Chairman of the Wolf Hunt, and organiser of the event Adam Bates, said: “Francis is still recovering from five hour surgery on his fractured neck and his hip where material was taken to fix a torn vertebrae.
“He will be carefully monitored by surgeons at Queens Med over the next two years. His prognosis is good long term, but full recovery will be slow, in terms of years, rather than months.
“Francis is a plasterer by trade so he will be off work for at least four months and probably longer.
“We are working with the Rugby League Benevolent Fund, who are helping us with immediate funds and advice going forward.
“The Rugby league community is very tight and the support we are getting from rugby clubs all over the country and from abroad is fantastic.
“Tonight is just the start of a long journey for Francis and the club, and a journey, which we are taking very seriously with quick learning and on-going support.”
The funds raised during the next few weeks and in the coming months will go to a specific Francis Appleton Rehabilitation fund, which will support Francis over the next two years. Any excess will be reserved for future seriously injured players and for positive initiatives within the club including supporting younger and unemployed players.
RFL Benevolent Fund Manager Steve Ball, added: “We are supporting Sherwood Wolf Hunt RLFC in ensuring Francis has sufficient funds for his everyday life, we will also assist in any retraining that he may need and offer support and advice to the club.
“We are very impressed with the way the club has handled this injury and look forward to working with them and Francis.
“Rugby League was, and still is a working man and woman’s game from the very beginning. The game prides itself on the way we support all of our clubs, families and players, in that regard.”
The club will hold a further fundraising event on the 8th August at Debdale Park. This will follow their last league game of the season versus Boston Buchaneers.
That day and evening will entail a BBQ, bouncy castle, fun events for families and further raffle/auction of sports memorabilia and donated prizes. Anyone wishing to donate to this event should contact the club at Debdale Park or on their websites.
The game was also used to allow players who wanted to test themselves playing Rugby League for the first time, along with established players from both sides.
Captained by star centre Michael Allen, the Wolf Hunt came out on top of a very hard working and brave Woodhouse Giants, a local rugby union side with little Rugby League experience.
The game started with Marcus Fisher controlling the ball for the Giants, this led to the opening try from the Giants.
Fisher, Shaun Underwood, Danny Dykes and Josh Kinta (also Wolf Hunt players playing for Giants) worked well to keep the Giants in contention throughout the first half, with the Giants leading throughout the first half.
The Giants tested the mixed up Wolf Hunt team to the hilt and were learning quickly and efficiently on the job.
In the second half, the Wolf Hunt’s experience and four new Fijian recruits started to wear down the tired Giants.
The addition of dual coder Brent Leivers to the Giants helped stem the tide.
His brilliant dancing try from close in, after a catch from a perfectly weighted cross field kick from Fisher, lifted the Giant’s heads and made the Wolf Hunt work hard.
Great work in defence from Giant’s Tony Radcliffe, Bradley Mower and Stephen Hinton kept the union side in the game through the first 20 minutes of the second half.
But excellent hard running from dual coder Michael Wallis, Eric Cranmer and Alex Berry, ensured the Giants did not get walked over.
For the Wolf Hunt, two wonderful nearly full length tries from Man of the Match James Asher, put the result beyond doubt and then the Wolf Hunt took control throwing the ball around with Aaron Bainbridge, Matt Upton and the Fijian contingent making the Giants work very hard to keep their defence tight.
In the end experience told, but the Giants should be very proud of their effort.
In particular players new to rugby league, Alex Berry and Eric Cranmer, along with Marcus Fisher worked hard to learn and tackled hard to cope with the size and speed of the Wolf Hunt as the Wolf Hunt ran out 44-30 winners.
This week sees the Wolf Hunt visit Boston who are currently one place above the Wolf Hunt in sixth on points difference. Kick off will be 2.30pm.