Celebrating rugby in its home town

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A weekend celebrating the sport of rugby and its home town takes place later this month.

RugbyFest kicks off on the evening of Friday 22 September and runs over the whole weekend at Rugby School.

The event features legendary former international players and covers the many forms of the game, from traditional 15-a-side to Sevens and Wheelchair Rugby.

There is also a music festival showcasing some of the best local talent, along with fun for all the family in the Fan Zone. Five charities will benefit from the profits.

The idea for RugbyFest came when local rugger fanatics Mark Dunkley and Spencer Brown were having a drink in a pub.

“We were talking about how there has never been an event open to the public to celebrate the town’s sporting heritage”, explains Mark.

“We’ve both played rugby and attended tournaments all over the world and its surprising how many people don’t know there is a town called Rugby where the game started. We decided to do something about it and had the idea of staging a rugby festival here in the game’s birthplace”.

Spencer, who had a professional career with clubs such as Richmond and Bristol as well as being capped a number of times for England, has used his contacts to bring some notable recent players to Rugby especially for the event.

On the Friday night is the Charity Legends Match, with two teams of some of the best former professionals and international players of recent times. Stars include Shane Byrne, David Von Hoesslin, and Tim Stimpson.

Anyone who loves the game will find something to interest them on the Saturday and Sunday. The official England Men and Women’s Deaf Teams are both in action. The men take on a Leicester Police XV, while the women will be playing against local ladies team the Rugby Lionesses.

Wheelchair Rugby is also represented, with an event organised in association with Wooden Spoon, the children’s charity of Rugby.There is a chance for anyone to have a go and try the wheelchair game, followed by the RugbyFest challenge in which Solent Sharks take on a Rest of the World team.

There will be a Rugby Touch Sevens World Record attempt with a non-stop match, with players appearing for 10 minutes at a time.

On Saturday night, some of the town’s best talents are on the bill at the RugbyFest concert. “Enterlude Events have put this together for us”, says Mark. They’ve done a great job – not only are we celebrating the game of rugby, we’re also celebrating the town’s talent in other areas”.

On Sunday the focus is on youngsters, with Children’s Legends Training. “This is a chance for the legends of the past to inspire the players of the future” says Spencer.

Several of the former professionals are running a series of 45-60 minute coaching clinics.

“This is ideal for youngsters of all ages who enjoy playing rugby or would like to give it a try”, he says.

Aside from the rugby, other attractions on the site include a funfair and bouncy castle, various food stalls and a real ale bar.

The Rugby’s Strongest Man competition will also be taking place on site during the RugbyFest weekend.

A range of different ticketing options are available, starting at £7.50 for adults and £5 for children to have all day access on either Saturday or Sunday. Tickets for the Legends Match cost £15.

For details on which day events are taking place, and to book tickets, see 
www.rugbyfestuk.com.