For rugby-mad landlords Graham Pound and Lisa James, their new pub in the birthplace of the sport is the perfect match.
The avid Leicester Tigers fans have just taken over The Seven Stars in Rugby and already have some grand ideas for the Albert Square pub to delight oval-ball enthusiasts.
Graham and Lisa come to the town after a successful three-and-a-half-year stint running The Free Trade Inn pub in Sileby, north Leicestershire, where it was nominated for various awards, including Camra’s County and Regional Pub of the Year.
And rugby devotees are in for a real treat as one of the first major events being held at the pub, next Wednesday, August 24, from 7pm, will feature an appearance from Tigers’ legends Tom Croft and Matt Smith.
The pair, who have a combined 337 Tigers’ appearances under their belts, are in their testimonial years and the event will raise money for their chosen charities, The Prostate Project and the Matt Hampson Foundation.
Croft, a former England international and British and Irish Lion, and Smith, a 29-try scorer with the team, will pose for photos with pubgoers, sign autographs and talk about their illustrious careers in a Q & A session. There will also be an auction of signed memorabilia.
The second major boon for rugby fans is the landlords’ new coach-trip deal providing travel to all of the Leicester Tigers’ home games for the coming season (see panel, below).
Graham, who served in the Navy and was a truckdriver for 28 years before entering the pub trade, has been going to Tigers’ games for around 15 years and has been a season ticker-holder with Lisa for the past seven – in the same seats in the Holland & Barrett stand.
Aside from the rugby offering, the pair’s ethos is on running a proper community pub.
Real ale fans will be well-served with 14 hand pumps on the premises and Graham brings with him a pedigree as a Campaign for Real Ale supporter who founded the Rutland branch in 2008.
The pub’s kitchen has also been refitted and Graham will be bringing his home-made scotch eggs to Rugby – something he was well-known for in Leicestershire – including a special full English breakfast version.
The new publicans at The Seven Stars have secured a season-long deal with Warwickshire coach firm Johnsons to provide bus travel to and from the Leicester Tigers’ Welford Road ground for all their home games for the 2016/17 campaign – including any European midweek fixtures.
The 49-seater coach will depart from outside the pub around two hours before kick-off, and will then leave Welford Road half-an-hour after the final whistle.
There is scope to add a second coach if demand dictates.
It costs £8 or £6 for the under-16s. “It’s not a money-making venture, it will just cover the costs of the coach,” explained Graham Proud. “It’s about hopefully having a laugh and a giggle for rugby fans.”
The journey will include a sweepstake for fans to guess the nearest correct scoreline on the day.
The Tigers’ home opener is on Saturday, September 10, against Coventry-based rivals Wasps with Waspies’ fans also allowed aboard. “Although they might have to travel on the roof,” joked Graham. For more details, call the pub on 01788 535478.