More than £48,000 has been raised for Military vs Cancer during the charity’s rugby event in Newcastle.

A crowd of over 2,500 were at Kingston Park, the home of Newcastle Falcons, for two matches between the UK Armed Forces and select XV North of England teams, which represented a first fixture for the North’s women’s team.

Military vs Cancer’s CEO and founder, David Bathgate, said: “We always hoped that our return to Kingston Park would be bigger and better than our inaugural event in 2023 and we have been absolutely blown away by the whole support.

“The people of Newcastle have been such a big support for our event and it was great to see such a great representation from military personnel and their families at the weekend. The funds raised will go a long way to supporting the charity’s work and we’re already booked up to return to Kingston Park in 2025.”

Military vs Cancer became a registered charity in May 2022 but was founded several years earlier by David after losing several family members to cancer. The charity brings together all three military services, businesses and people in industry.

On the pitch, there was double delight for the UK Armed Forces team, with the men’s team running out 90-15 winners after the women’s side had notched a 38-15 triumph. Ex-Falcons player Rob Vickers and Women’s World Cup winner Tamara Taylor were among the coaches for the North of England side.

The match was important for North of England women, who marked a first official fixture as they explore routes to bring elite women’s rugby back to the region following changes to the Women’s Premiership structure in 2022.

Assistant Director of Rugby Cesca Johnson-Harding is confident Saturday’s fixture marks the beginning of a new era for the women’s game in the region, saying:  “It was the start of a new era for the women of the North East who wore the North East Select colours with pride and really showcased just how much we need an elite level game in the North. What an amazing day raising awareness of this gap in playing provision and raising money for a worthy charity like Military v Cancer.

“We have planted a flag for the game to run for years to come and to grow it into a spectacle where the Northern Rugby family can support the men’s and women’s game and families battling cancer in our Armed Forces."

Matt Thompson, chairman of rugby at Newcastle Falcons, added: "Bringing together the North of England Select XV and the UK Armed Forces RFC, both men's and women's teams, showcased some fantastic rugby while raising vital funds and awareness for the incredible Military vs Cancer charity.

"The day was not just about the competition on the field, it was also a great opportunity to make a difference. We are incredibly proud to have played our part in supporting this fantastic cause and are thrilled with the outcome of a memorable day of rugby and fundraising."

A fusilier’s band performed before both matches while an U12 game at half-time saw Bishop Auckland RFC take on Houghton RFC and Hartlepool RFC.