Wasps' captain, James Haskell, today launched an innovative partnership between Wasps and the Invictus Games, the international sporting event for wounded, injured and sick Service personnel.
The Games, presented by Jaguar Land Rover, will be held in London from the 10th to 14th September and will see 14 nations compete across nine sports. Events will take place at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and Lee Valley Athletics Centre.
Wasps have a strong affiliation with the Armed Forces, following successful partnerships with Help for Heroes at the club's first St George's Day fixture, and then for the fixture's second year with BLESMA (British Limbless Ex-Service Men's Association), Combat Stress, The Parachute Regiment Charity and The Special Boat Service Association (SBSA).
England back-rower Haskell was joined at the Copper Box launch by former RAF Regiment Gunner and Lance Corporal Ben Steele, who is one of 400 competitors taking part in the Invictus Games, competing in the British Armed Forces wheelchair rugby team. Ben has served in Iraq and Afghanistan in the RAF Regiment. He lost his leg following a serious motorcycle accident in the UK while serving in the Military Provost Guard Service. He took up wheelchair rugby as part of his recovery and discovered a real passion for it.
As part of the alliance, Wasps will wear a limited edition away shirt during the London Double Header against Saracens on Saturday 6th September to drive awareness for the Invictus Games. Wasps' players will also support a wheelchair rugby training session in Bristol on Thursday 28th August.
James Haskell said: "It's fantastic that Wasps are supporting such an incredible event and giving Invictus Games another platform on which to boost its profile during their first year.
"Hopefully, having Invictus Games so visible at the London Double Header will help them to gain significant exposure on BT Sport and generate interest among thousands of fans at Twickenham.
"Over the past few years it has been brilliant to see the overwhelming support for our Armed Forces and a genuine appreciation of the incredible job they do to protect us. I know there is no prouder moment than to represent your country. These guys do it daily, and their commitment, regardless of the risk to themselves, is inspirational.
"You often hear in rugby about players putting their bodies on the line. It's a tough, physical game, but let's face it, it's incomparable to the dangers Service personnel face, and I have so much respect for what they sacrifice in the line of duty.
"These are men and women who have suffered life-changing injuries, but still refuse to be beaten. To watch them compete at the Invictus Games will be inspirational and I'd encourage people to get down to the venues to cheer them on."
Ben Steele says: "When I had lost my left leg in September 2012 I thought my life was going to change for the worst.
But in fact, the opposite has happened and I've actually been introduced to more sport and activities than ever before, including wheelchair rugby. I've always been an adrenaline junkie and I love the fact that it's such a fast and furious sport with an element of danger.
"Sport has helped me conquer my injury and I'm determined to not let it control my life. You can do whatever you want with the right attitude. I am now looking forward to competing in the Invictus Games with that same positive approach. It's not going to be easy so we need as much support in the Copper Box as possible. I can promise you it's going to be an awesome show."
Mark Cameron, Global Brand Experience Director of Jaguar Land Rover said: "Everyone at Jaguar Land Rover shares the mounting excitement about the Invictus Games and looks forward to what will be an inspirational event in September.
"As supporters of rugby union at all levels, we are delighted that Wasps will be promoting the Invictus Games on their shirt for the London Double Header. It's fantastic that Wasps have joined us in celebrating the Invictus Games and recognising the commitment and achievements of wounded, injured and sick Service personnel."
The Invictus Games are being organised with the support and backing of The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry and the Ministry of Defence.
They will feature more than 400 wounded, injured and sick Servicemen and women, serving and veteran, competing in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and the Lee Valley Athletics Centre thanks to the Mayor of London Boris Johnson, the London Legacy Development Corporation, the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, DCMS and Sport England.
Invictus is Latin for unconquered, a word that embodies the fighting spirit of wounded, injured and sick Servicemen and women. The Invictus Games are a unique chance for the public to celebrate this 'invictus spirit' through sporting achievement venues made famous by the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.