Wembley hero Chris to return - on his bike

Chris Tuson
Chris Tuson

A former rugby league star is heading back to Wembley - where he experienced the highlight of his playing career - under pedal power.

A former rugby league star is heading back to Wembley - where he experienced the highlight of his playing career - under pedal power.

Leyland-born Chris Tuson, who won the Challenge Cup with Wigan in 2013, is taking part in Rugby League Cares’ Ride to Wembley Challenge.

Chris was forced to retire from professional rugby league five years ago after suffering a career-ending neck injury.

The Rugby League Cares independent charity plays an important role in player welfare.

It supports players at the end of their careers when they make the transition to life after rugby, providing education and training grants that will equip them with the skills and qualifications they need for the next stage of their lives.

It is also there for current and former players who are enduring poor health or hardship by offering practical and financial support.

The Ride to Wembley Challenge is a 340-mile bike ride over five days.

It starts on Monday, August 19 and continues to Friday, August 23, arriving at Wembley on the eve of the Challenge Cup final between St Helens and Warrington.

Chris, who attended Balshaws CE High School and Runshaw Collage, is fundraising for the charity and has set up a Just Giving page.

The former forward says: “Rugby League Cares has provided me with continued support. Not only have they helped me establish a life after rugby, but they continue to support my ongoing medical care. RLC has provided me with both financial and emotional support to allow me to study to a high level which has been paramount in helping me secure and succeed in a rewarding job.

“I am a prime example of why RLC exists. Without their support I wouldn’t be in the position I am today.”

Seven former stars of Super League will be among the 25-strong group of riders who set out from the George Hotel, Huddersfield.

Over the course of the next five days, the riders will negotiate more than 340 off-road miles through the heart of England, avoiding tarmac wherever possible on bridleways, forest trails, canal towpaths and green lanes.

The gruelling route features over 18,000ft of ascent – the equivalent of cycling uphill from sea level to Everest basecamp – and sees the challenge cross the Pennines, the Peak District, the Cotswolds and the Chiltern Hills.

The riders include two Lance Todd Trophy winners, Denis Betts and Robbie Hunter-Paul, who were men of the match at Wembley in 1991 and 1996; Keith Senior, a Challenge Cup final winner with Sheffield Eagles in 1998; Nathan McAvoy, who lifted the Challenge Cup with Bradford Bulls in the 2000 Challenge Cup final played at Murrayfield, and, of course, Chris, a boyhood Wigan Warriors fan.

Chris started his career with amateur clubs Leyland Warriors and Bamber Bridge.

He was signed by Wigan Warriors in 2006 and made his first team début from the bench against Leeds Rhinos in 2008.

He triggered a previous injury whilst playing for Super League side Hull FC against Warrington Wolves and announced his retirement aged just 26 after being advised by a specialist to give up the game for the good of his health.

The injury, a bulging disc, left him temporarily paralysed at the time.

He was offered a role on Hull’s backroom staff.

You can support Chris by visiting https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/chris-tuson