MORE than 50 former rugby players from across Ryedale and York are coming out of retirement to play in a veterans’ charity match next month.

The veterans, with an average age of 50, are training regularly in preparation for the match, which takes place at Terrington Hall School, near Malton, at 2pm on Saturday, March 2.

Spectators will be asked to make a donation, while players will pay £30 for a special rugby shirt and have been asked to raise an additional £100 each.

Andrew Pern, of the Star Inn at Harome, is organising a hog roast at the pitchside.

The event, which will raise funds for the Ryedale branch of the MS Society, is being organised by MS sufferer Nina Aldrich, of Whitwell-on-the-Hill, and her husband, Marcus.

He said that at least 30 per cent of the players taking part personally knew someone affected by MS. “We have 52 in training now,” he said. “These guys really are putting their bodies back on the line.

“It’s an amazing achievement to bring 50-odd players out of retirement, who have never played together before, and put together two functioning teams for the match.

“These are some of the best has-been rugby players from the Ryedale and York area and it’s going to be a spectacular game. “These guys really haven’t lost it – we are just blowing out the cobwebs.”

Meanwhile, Nina, who believes her MS was sparked by her traumatic experiences in witnessing the Boxing Day tsunami in Thailand, said she had also been inundated by superb offers for a charity auction to be held after the match at the Stone Trough Inn at Kirkham Abbey, which is laying on a meal for the players and providing live entertainment.

She said lots going under the hammer included an offer by Mr Pern to cook for eight people at their home in Ryedale, or alternatively provide a five-course meal for eight people at the Star Inn, and signed memorabilia from former New Zealand captain Sean Fitzpatrick.

Other lots included a limited edition print of a painting of two wood pigeons by Thixendale wildlife artist Robert Fuller and a Saturday Kitchen-style offer for four men to be taught how to cook a three-course meal by by Victor Buchanan, of the White Swan at Pickering.