Fund-raising first at Murrayfield

A GALAXY of international rugby players are to lead an unprecedented collection at Sunday's Calcutta Cup clash between Scotland and England at Murrayfield as part of a #1.5m appeal to raise cash for a student injured in a match.

Struan Kerr-Liddell, 24, has been left paralysed from the neck down with movement left only in his arms and in one finger after he suffered a broken neck during a game for Edinburgh club Lismore's second XV against Livingston's second XV in October.

He is at the Spinal Injuries Unit at Glasgow's Southern General Hospital, where doctors have described his injuries as the worst rugby-related ones they have seen since the unit opened in 1992.

Rugby clubs across Scotland have been raising funds for the Edinburgh University student, in what is know as Struan's Appeal.

Organisers have praised and welcomed the support of the Scottish Rugby Union, which has for the first time allowed a major collection at an international match.

An SRU spokesman said: ''We are obviously very aware of the fact that Struan was injured while playing rugby. We feel it is very important that rugby looks after its own.''

The collectors will be led by the patron of the fund, the former British Lions and Scotland captain Finlay Calder, who has rounded up former colleagues, including the captain of the 1990 Grand Slam team, David Sole; Gavin and Scott Hastings; Iwan Tukalo; and John Jeffrey.

Appealing to fans to donate cash at one of 50 collection buckets which will be dotted

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around the stadium, he said: ''I think what happened here goes right to the heart of anyone who has every pulled a pair of boots on. If everyone who is at Murrayfield on Sunday donated #1 each, which is not much, it would be a wonderful start to the appeal.''

The student, who plans to return to his computer science and artificial intelligence studies course at Edinburgh University, has been buoyed by a visit from the Princess Royal and a telephone call from John Eales, the captain of the Australian World Cup winning team, along with regular visits from Scotland team players.

Appeal fund organiser John Evans, of Lismore Rugby Club, praising the SRU, said: ''The target for the appeal has been set at #1.5m to help Struan cope with accommodation and his living costs.'' He said he hoped the trust would eventually be open to anyone who had spinal injuries.

Other fund-raising events planned for the weekend, include a 250-mile bike ride from Bakewell, Derbyshire, where Struan lived before coming to Scotland, which will deliver a match ball for a game on Saturday between Lismore and Bakewell Mannarians at Inch Park, Edinburgh.