Scottish Parliament RFC: Memorial Fixture in memory of a hero
The words ‘whom the Gods love die young’ are attributed to the Greek poet Menander. Heroes are understood to be loved by the Gods, as they give to others without restraint, and understand well the importance of being part of a team.
At just 30 years old, David Hill was a scrum-half for the Scottish Parliament Rugby Football Club, and he had a great lust for life, with a passion for rugby. Tragically, David died suddenly last year without warning, whilst playing rugby against the Irish Dáil and Senead XV team, on a sunny day in late March. He suffered a Sudden Cardiac Death, like twelve other young people aged 14 – 35 who pass away a week from undiagnosed heart conditions in the UK. Today, David lives on in the hearts and actions of those who loved him, both as a person and as a teammate; a hero not to be mourned, but to be honoured.
A club resulting from friendship and devoted to solidarity
At the time of his passing, David was working as Head of Office to Jamie Greene, MSP in the Scottish Parliament, and was one of the founders of the Scottish Parliament RFC in 2016. This rugby club was originally created to unite individuals working at the Scottish Parliament who shared a great passion for the game. The club has expanded in recent seasons to include the Civil Service, Crown Office, UK Government in Scotland and Scottish Courts & Tribunal Service, as well as a number of other associated businesses and trades, i.e. journalists, lawyers etc. The team regularly play fixtures against Parliamentary colleagues from other nations as part of the Parliamentary Six Nations, travelling home and away to rugby fields in Dublin, Cardiff, London and Paris.
The team also plays internal matches throughout Scotland, with a particular focus on honourable causes, such as playing the Edinburgh Rugby Inclusive team, or the Glasgow Raptors, a team representing the LGBTQI community. This solidarity has always underpinned the very essence of the Scottish Parliament RFC, with various charitable efforts and fund-raising for various causes, including supporting the School of Hard Knocks, a UK charity designed to empower less fortunate individuals and introduce them to rugby.
From great pain emerged a concrete social engagement
David Hill’s sudden passing left a huge gap and immense pain in the heart of his family, his friends and his teammates. This loss, however, resulted in a joint effort to support research in order to reduce the frequency of young sudden cardiac death, and also to support injured Scottish rugby players at all levels of the game. David’s family and rugby club engage in fundraising activities for the David Hill Memorial Fund, with the aim of supporting two charities: Cardiac Risk in The Young (CRY) and The Murrayfield Injured Players Foundation. The family and club believe that this work is vital in ensuring that others don’t have to suffer like they have after the loss of David, and by supporting the Murrayfield Injured Players Foundation, they are able to thank the Scottish Rugby Union for their ongoing support and care since the young rugby player’s passing.
CRY was set up in 1995 and they have been working to reduce the frequency of young sudden cardiac death (YCSD). The charity supports young people diagnosed with potentially life-threatening cardiac conditions and offers bereavement support to families affected by YCSD. It promotes and develops heart-screening programmes throughout the UK’s main hospitals and funds medical research.
The Murrayfield Injured Players Foundation focuses on providing assistance to injured Scottish rugby players, and has done since its establishment in 1972.
The symbolic power of a jersey
At the David Hill Memorial Match, which took place last month in Edinburgh between the Scottish Parliament RFC and the Dáil and Seanad RFC, finishing 55-33 to the Irish, both teams wore a special game kit, which was the result of a joint effort between David Hill’s rugby club and the Macron Edinburgh team (Colin Campbell Sports). Michael Mawdsley, the captain of the Scottish Parliament RFC who works for the Scottish Civil Service talks about these unique and symbolic jerseys. “In the soul of these jerseys, there is first and foremost David’s love for Scottish rugby. To create our jersey we started by looking at former Scotland international jerseys, and by using those colours as a starting point, we were quite quickly able to come up with something that fitted the brief for the Scottish Parliament jersey. In terms of the Dàil & Senad jersey, we chose a simple white and green design, echoing a number of different Irish away kits from previous seasons,” explains Michael Mawdsley. “We included the two main charity sponsors, CRY and the Murrayfield Injured Players Foundation, on the jersey. We also wanted to recognise the friendship between the countries of Ireland and Scotland, and both our teams, and we marked this with a roundel on the back of the collar on both kits with the Saltire and Irish Tricolour in a circle. The final and most important element was ensuring David’s presence in the designs, and due to David’s position as scrum-half, every jersey bears the No. 9 motif on the right shoulder. We were conscious that supporters would perhaps also like a similar commemorative item that they could wear to show their support for both David and the charities, at not only the fixture, but also going forward. Therefore, we produced a supporter’s tracksuit and training top that featured all the elements of the playing kit, which was fantastic”.
The values of rugby and its important role in the local community
Michael Mawdsley has been playing rugby since the age of four, and this sport is a fundamental part of his life. “Rugby is a game that can be played, watched, and most importantly enjoyed by all. For me, it signifies friendship, but for others it can mean many other things – exercise, community, kindness, respect, etc,” explains the captain of the Scottish Parliament RFC. “What’s more, rugby plays a gigantic role within local communities. I’ve seen the enormous effect that rugby can have on someone’s life. For example, most, if not all, of my close friends are people I’ve played rugby with, either at junior or senior level, I even met my wife through rugby, which is quite the achievement! In turn I can also see the connections that they have with others who’ve played the game – take SPRFC, where you’ve got nearly ten years of political and social connections, across political divides. I think you need only show up to a grassroots league game in Scotland and see a crowd of people to know the importance of the sport and that sense of community to those individuals”.
David Hill, a hero forever
One of the big things about rugby is that it doesn’t matter about whether or not you’re the best player on the field. Rugby is a team game where, without those players beside you wearing the same jersey, you can’t win. It really is a sport where the power of collective ability heavily outweighs that of individual brilliance. The figure of David Hill therefore fits perfectly into the concept of “Become Your Own Hero”. “He was never the best player on a rugby field, but he was a good one, and he was a fantastic teammate who instilled his values in our squad,” concludes Mawdsley. “More importantly, he was the co-founder of our club and, without him, we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to play fixtures in cities across Europe, to build relationships - not only within our team but with our opposition - or to raise money for noble causes. For those reasons, David is our hero, and we hope to continue our good work in his name for many years to come”.
If you would like to learn more about David, donate to his memorial fund please do so here: https://www.c-r-y.org.uk/david-hill/