Robbie's Rugby Festival, the Midlands' largest tens tournament, is going from strength to strength. Now Leicester and England stars Tom and Ben Youngs have got on board
Youngs brothers throw weight behind Robbie’s Rugby Festival 2019
Robbie’s Rugby Festival 2019 is just weeks away and the organisers have pulled off quite a coup by securing the Youngs brothers, Tom and Ben, as Event Ambassadors.
The Festival, which takes place at Loughborough Grammar School’s playing fields on Saturday 27 July, returns for its 11th year and has already raised more than £81,000 for the Robbie Anderson Cancer Trust and the Jake McCarthy Foundation.
Tom’s wife Tiffany has battled cancer in recent years and although happily she is now in full remission, the raison d’être for Robbie’s Rugby Festival remains a powerful and emotional draw for the rugby-playing brothers.
“I’d heard about the festival in the background for a while and when we were asked if we’d like to be ambassadors, we said we’d love to be, 100%,” says Tom, the Leicester Tigers hooker and captain recently spotted at a charitable event for Doddie Weir and Matt Hampson. “It’s for a great cause and they’ve done a fantastic job. You need to keep the wheels turning, it’s the 11th year and they’ve done so well, raising a lot of money.
“I went to Leicester Royal (Infirmary) recently and met them; they had just opened up a therapy room there for patients and I know how much those things mean to people because I’ve gone through that journey with my wife. It’s nice to break away sometimes, for the families and everyone involved really. It’s very dear to my heart and I’m looking forward to helping on 27 July. I hope lots of people turn up and there’s a lot raised for it.”
Ben, the Tigers and England scrum-half preparing for the autumn World Cup in Japan, showed the strength of the family bond when, with Tiffany’s condition deteriorating in 2017, he withdrew from the Lions tour of New Zealand to support his big brother and sister-in-law.
“The festival has been very popular across the Midlands; it’s held down the road in Loughborough and that’s one of the reasons I’ve become an ambassador,” says Ben, named in a 35-strong World Cup training squad announced this week.
“Obviously to raise money for cancer trusts is very close to myself and Tom and the family’s hearts. So it’s an easy fit and we just wanted to be a part of it and support it.”
The backdrop to Robbie’s Rugby Festival is a tragic one. Robbie Anderson was only 13 when in 2006 he lost an 18-month battle against cancer, a disease that strikes six teenagers daily in the UK. He created a trust to help young people and their families cope with and fight cancer, and the therapy room is just the latest tangible example of the difference the charity is making to the lives of young patients.
The Jake McCarthy Foundation, which raises awareness of the symptoms behind brain tumours, is the festival’s other beneficiary and is named after an old boy of Loughborough GS who died in 2012 after suffering a seizure on holiday in Thailand.
2009 Loughborough Endowed Schools
2010 Syston RFC
2011 Team Schweff (Loughborough Endowed Schools Alumni Team)
2012 Syston RFC
2013 Syston RFC
2014 Seals (Loughborough Endowed Schools Alumni Team)
2015 Do it for Dawson (Durham University Alumni Team)
2017 Do it for Dawson & Hinckley RFC (shared)
2018 Team Schweff
Robbie’s Rugby Festival set out as an old boys’ reunion match in 2009 but has become the largest tens tournament in the Midlands, attracting 30 teams and thousands of spectators.
Luminaries such as Eddie Jones, Clive Woodward, Warren Gatland, Sam Warburton, Richie McCaw and Dan Carter have lent their support over the years. And in addition to the Youngs brothers, England World Cup winner Neil Back is continuing in his role as an Event Ambassador.
Visitors on 27 July can expect a day of exciting rugby action and fun activities. They include The Rugby Village, sponsored by The Loughburians, that houses an outside bar, physio tent, hot tub, face-painting, ice-cream van and water tent.
The Summer Garden, sponsored by The Little Retreat, will bring together the elements of a typical British summer celebration including jugs of Pimm’s, a gin bar, BBQ, raffle and afternoon tea stand.
And then there’s the Party on the Pitch, a full evening of entertainment, live music, photo booths and charitable fun activities.
The festival’s vision remains as it has done since its inception: to create an atmospheric, unforgettable and inspiring event that leaves a legacy to be remembered by uniting local communities, businesses and teams from across the country.
Last year the Loughborough GS Schweff team emerged victorious in the main tournament – their first success since 2011 – while Market Harborough RFC won Jake’s Round Robin. Among this year’s club entries are Rosslyn Park, Loughborough, Durham University and Woodbridge.
Robbie’s Rugby Festival 2019 takes place on Saturday 27 July at Loughborough Grammar School playing fields from 10am. Donations are welcomed on the gate on the day. For more details and to book tickets to Party on the Pitch, see robbiesrugbyfestival.com
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