Our Story

2012 Birmingham to Worcester

The Beginning of the Nags

The whole "Nag" idea started with a thought: "Can a twelve-tonne barge be pulled by human power alone the distance of a marathon"?

Five rugby players joined together to make it happen by pulling the narrowboat 32 miles between Birmingham and Worcester over five days in 2012. The distance was supposed to be slightly less, but on one particular day they decided to take a little detour to find a pub in a nearby town and so pulled the boat there!

This started the fundraising rolling with a great sum of £4500.

During the trip the plan was hatched to create a charity rugby team to play every two years to raise even more funds for Cancer Research UK. The team would be called ‘The Nags’ after the old horses that used to pull the barges and so the name was born.

Never did the intrepid five imagine what they would create?

2014 Kidderminster

Nags vs Kidderminster Carolians RFC

The first ‘Nags’ game against Kidderminster RFC attracted 45 players from Wales, The Midlands and Gloucestershire. This inaugural match was a huge success and The Nags smashed their target by raising £7000 in the process. Played, partly in monsoon conditions, the teams were able to play the game in great spirit ending with a fantastic sing-song and some traditional drinking games in the clubhouse.

The Nags Charity Barbarians Rugby Team was born, and adopted the slogan,

"Rugby to tackle cancer!"


Walk a Mile

The following year The Nags tried a ‘quick’ fundraiser by challenging people to simply walk a mile and donate a pound. This idea was taken from an article by Macmillan that said that walking a mile a day can help prevent certain cancers. With a little bit of persuasion and the help of a local school The Nags managed to accumulate 1000 miles and therefore £1000.

2016 Lampeter

Nags vs Lampeter RFC

The Nags next game against Lampeter RFC, West Wales, in 2016 was an even bigger event, attracting 60 players to play across four quarters. The game, sponsorship, raffle and auction pushed The Nags into five figures as they raised a whopping £17000 on the day.

The town of Lampeter was said to have been invaded, but fantastically welcomed by the locals. Lampeter RFC put on a campsite on their training pitch and local hotels, B&Bs and cottages were full to the rafters.

The day was made even more special by the match ball being delivered by the West Wales Cycling Racing Team, all the way from Kidderminster. Plus the Treharris Male Voice Choir offering quality entertainment.

Played in stifling heat, both sides again followed the traditional of playing open expansive rugby but with a little bit of physicality. Rumour has it that the clubhouse of Lampeter RFC was drunk dry on the day.

The ambulance in the background of the picture above was actually for a supporter who, thoroughly enjoying the social side of The Nags, forgot he was sitting on a stool and leant backwards. He made a full recovery but his wife has reduced the amount of his ‘socialising’ at future events.

4th to 6th August 2017 Bridgnorth to Tewkesbury

Canoe Challenge

In between games the ‘filler’ was created to come up with different yet interesting challenges to continue fundraising. For this inaugural filler The Nags revisited the water to canoe 50 miles down the River Severn between Bridgnorth and Tewkesbury.

27 canoeists, most of who had never canoed before, took up the challenge on one of Britain’s most dangerous rivers in a flotilla of canoes, kayaks and bell-boats.

After a slightly worrying thunderstorm that passed immediately overhead on day two, they were met by a stunning rainbow as they approached their destination in Tewkesbury. Some emotionally thought it was in recognition of doing something good!

The distance was completed over 3 days by camping en-route in Stourport and Upton-upon-Severn with a customary detour to Bewdley for a swift half of lager and bag of chips.

Again the Nags were able to smash their target by raising £6500 in the process.

May 2018 Droitwich

Nags vs Droitwich RFC

In 2018, the Nags played their third game against a very strong Droitwich RFC squad with the ambitious aim to beat £30k on the day. Droitwich RFC and The Nags put on a superb show not only on the rugby field but also with the entertainment throughout the day, including live music, a rodeo bull and even a pantomime horse ball-boy. A great day was had by all that attended and the event received the apt nickname of ‘Nagstonbury’.

The Nags brought the largest contingent ever to Droitwich RFC with a rugby squad of over 75 players, coaches and physios, representing 18 different clubs across Britain and Ireland. The four games that took part were brilliantly free-flowing with no quarter given based on some of the big hits and delicate skills on display.

Whilst the players sweated on the pitch, the ever-expanding ‘Nags Support Team’ operated a brilliant Nags shop, huge raffle and gobsmacking auction that accelerated our funds in the clubhouse.

Droitwich promised a big fundraiser but no-one expected the final total to pass a staggering £40000, thanks to the generosity of the hundreds of people who turned up to support, take part and donate.


Crabbies Nomination

In recognition of The Nags work to link rugby with charity, they were massively rewarded by reaching the shortlist for the Crabbies National Rugby Awards. From hundreds of entrants The Nags reached the final seven and some Nag representatives attended the presentation day at HQ, Twickenham.

It was noted that when our fundraising sum at Droitwich was announced there was a distinct ‘gasp’ from the rest of the audience.

June 2019 Snowdon


After the success of the Canoe Challenge, another ‘filler’ was planned. i.e. An alternative fundraising event that fits between the biannual rugby matches.

The weekend of Snoverest fitted the bill perfectly with a huge total to boot.

The idea was created, as they all now seem to be, over a few beers in a rugby club. Suggestions about climbing Snowdon led to a lager-fuelled idea of pulling the train up the mountain. Gladly we sat back on a comparison that eight Snowdons are equivalent to Everest, hence the name.

The plan was that The Nags would split into small teams to collectively climb the mountain eight times over the weekend. Teams of eight would climb once each, teams of four twice and so on, including the crazy individuals who planned to climb eight times on their own!

In total 75 Nags took part, climbing the mountain a total of 168 times. This equated to 21 Everests but probably even more incredible was the sum of £19000 raised after a target of £7500.

This was an extremely challenging event leading to many climbers walking like John Wayne in the evenings at the campsite. A small group of Nags also successfully completed a night climb to catch the sunrise. What was extra special about this event is that ‘The Naglings’ were formed, children participants, who resembled mountain goats with their eagerness to get to the top.

The trouble is, how on earth can we beat this in 2021?

2020 Llansawel


The Nags Charity Barbarians are planning to take on A Llansawel Invitational Squad at Llandovery RFC next. Although Llansawel RFC disbanded a few years ago, many of their ex-players have supported The Nags since the start. So the perfect game is being organised for some of these pioneer fundraisers to play together once more (with a few additional guests).

The game will be called ‘The Star Tour’ as it is very probable that this event will take The Nags past the very special milestone of £100k total raised. As a tribute to all the hard work, perseverance and camaraderie that has led to this amount, The Nags badge will receive a gold star on top of it with the hope that two gold stars will not be too distant in the future.