KEEPING rucking rugby 'menaces' in line is a stern task at the best of times - doing it on Mount Everest is a different matter.

That's the task facing Edinburgh referee Graham Allen as preparations ramped up for the LMAX Exchange Everest Rugby Challenge with a cold, wet and wild weekend scaling Ben Nevis last weekend. 

The 30-strong group were put through their paces in the Grampians, their final training as a unit before they attempt to break two Guinness World Records by playing rugby at 6,500m altitude. 

Allen, 54, has refereed at the highest level in Commonwealth Games and Heineken Cup matches but nothing will prepare him for the test lying in wait on Tibetan Advanced Base Camp.

While the Corstorphine official will have perennial bragging rights over fellow whistle-blowers, it's the memory of a recently departed family member that is providing most motivation.

"My brother passed away sadly in November and I'm going to do it for him and all the other children, parents and carers involved in Wooden Spoon," said Allen. 

"It's a wonderful group of people and a pleasure to be involved in. 

"There's definitely some menaces in there, we have got some ex-England players and as a Scot I will have to try to stay unbiased!

"I think what we have got is really good group dynamic and the preparation we're doing is helping to bond the team together. 

"We have big egos and big personalities but we are all doing the same thing, for the same cause and it's a level playing field.

"Things like climbing Ben Nevis help bond the team together and only help the really good group dynamic we have."

Since the turn of the year preparations have taken on a new intensity after the group were subjected to rigorous altitude chamber training in Southampton earlier this month. 

The matches will bid to break the record set by the Steve Prescott Foundation at 5,752 metres up Kilimanjaro in 2015.

Each of the 26 challengers has been set a funding target of £10,000, to be used by Wooden Spoon to help children and young people with disabilities and facing disadvantage in the UK and Ireland.

Teams will be captained by a clutch of rugby stars including Shane Williams, Wales' leading try-scorer, England Women legend Tamara Taylor and 60-cap Test hooker Lee Mears.

Mears was joined by fellow team captain Ollie Phillips, former IRB Sevens World Player of the Year, in the Ben Nevis mountain range for a weekend of Burns night celebrations and snow climbing skills. 

The former Bath star, part of the charity's world-record breaking feats at the North Pole in 2015, felt the weekend was a hugely valuable exercise - aside from the weather. 

"When I played rugby in Scotland it rained on me, when I play golf it rains on me, and at the weekend I went for a nice walk and it's raining on me!" said the 39-year-old. 

"It was about bonding, it was mentally testing and we're testing ourselves against the elements.

"As a team captain I'm there to motivate people and I'm just looking forward to getting the best out of everyone, trying to bring us together and keep the morale high.

"This group is really special because we're recreating what rugby's all about - making friends for life, putting yourself up against a massive challenge and trying to overcome it." 

Support us in the LMAX Exchange Everest Rugby Challenge to help change the lives of children and young people with disabilities and facing disadvantage across the UK and Ireland - visit  #everestrugby