Former WRU boss 'emotional' after completing Wales Coast Path challenge in Cardiff

Craig Maxwell was joined by his wife Tracey, daughter Isla and son Zach in the Principality Stadium after he completed the Wales Coast Path Cancer Challenge Credit: Huw Evans Picture Agency

A man who was diagnosed with incurable cancer received a standing ovation at the Wales v France Six Nations game after walking from Anglesey to Cardiff.

Former World Rugby Union commercial director Craig Maxwell completed his Wales Coast Path Cancer Challenge at the Principality Stadium on Sunday, 10 March 2024.

The dad of two, who is now a fundraiser for Velindre, was diagnosed with incurable lung and bone cancer EGFR in September 2022.

The former WRU boss is aiming to raise £1 million for the Maxwell Family Fund to improve and develop the cancer pathway in Wales. Credit: Huw Evans Picture Agency

"I wouldn’t have completed the challenge without all the support I’ve had," Craig said.

"From my fellow walkers and celebrities to the people who have come out to support us in towns and villages across Wales, the support has been overwhelming."

Craig had carried the ball for the Wales v France match throughout the challenge and brought it onto the pitch for Sunday's game.

Met with a standing ovation from the crowd of over 71,000 fans, he was joined on the pitch by his wife Tracey, daughter Isla, and son Zach.

The former WRU boss is aiming to raise £1 million for the Maxwell Family Fund to improve and develop the cancer pathway in Wales.

About 600 walkers had signed up to support Craig on the 26-day challenge, which covered 780 miles of the coast path to represent the 78 days it took Craig to receive his diagnosis from the point of finding his tumour.

The remaining 870-mile coast path was cycled. It was done in 26 days to mirror a genomics research project that aims to reduce diagnosis time for lung cancer patients to a maximum of 26 days.

Craig's son Zach hands over the Wales v France ball to the refree. Credit: Huw Evans Picture Agency

Craig's journey started on 14 February and saw him walk the North Wales coast, around Anglesey, the Llyn Peninsula, down the Ceredigion Pembrokeshire coast, around the Gower, and along the south Wales coast to the stadium in Cardiff.

During the challenge, he was joined by a number of familiar celebrity faces, including TV presenter Gethin Jones, comedian Rhod Gilbert, weatherman Derek Brockway and former rugby players Sam Warburton, Jamie Roberts and Josh Navidi.

Former England cricket captain Sir Andrew Strauss also joined for a leg, having lost his wife Ruth to lung cancer in 2018.

The Maxwell family brought the Wales v France ball onto the pitch of Principality stadium. Credit: Huw Evans Photography

On Sunday, 11 March, he walked from Barry to Cardiff, stopping at Penarth, where he received a warm welcome from his hometown, including Penarth RFC’s junior rugby team, who he coaches.

As he walked in the Principality Stadium, rugby pundit Jonathan Davies, said: "I have been with him on many challenges but he is facing the toughest challenge of his life now.

"What he has done is absolutely phenomenal. You can see how the rugby family comes together. The support he has had. He has done this to show his children that even in the darkest times you can be a force for good. This guy is an absolute inspiration."

Thanking everyone who has supported him Mr Maxwell added: "These people have lifted me every day and kept me going.

"Walking the match ball onto the pitch with my family, surrounded by former WRU and Six Nations colleagues and over 70,000 fans, was emotional and something that will stay with me any my family forever.

"Thank you to everyone who has supported the challenge. We’re hoping that everyone will keep donating so that we can reach our £1m target."

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