A host of former Newcastle Falcons Legends along with other stars of rugby and players from North East clubs will come together on Friday 22nd April to raise money for former Falcon Paul Van-Zandvliet.
Tank, as he known throughout the game, was diagnosed with an inoperable cancer last month but has met the news in typically uncompromising fashion and has vowed to raise funds for charity as well as providing for his family, particular his young daughter Hope Elle.
Paul joined the club in 1992 and was part of the team that won promotion from the Second Division in 1997. He was then a member of the Falcons squad that, twelve months later, made history in May 1998 by winning the Premiership; the first time and only any promoted club has won the English RU Premiership.
Tank then retired from professional rugby in 1999 as a result of an accident on the Tyne Bridge but remained a popular figure on the local club scene having an involvement at North Shields, Percy Park and Whitley Bay Rockliffe.
The benefit game – ‘Tankie’s Battle’ – has been quickly put together by former Newcastle players Richard Metcalfe, Stuart Grimes and Garath Archer who along with a number of Paul’s friends and rugby colleagues have set up an organising committee for the event.
The match will see a Falcons Legends team take on a North East Clubs Select team with all monies raised on the night going towards the Hope Elle Van-Zandvliet Benefit Fund.
Tickets will cost £10/£20 for adults and £5 for Under 16s and are available now from the Stadium Ticket Office on 0871 226 6060. Corporate hospitality is priced at £50 per head for the game which will also feature Gary Armstrong, Hugh Vyvyan and Micky Ward with many others to be announced over the coming weeks.
Speaking about the match former teammate Richard Metcalfe said: “When the news came through about Tank and the fight he now has on his hands our first reaction was how can we all help?”
“The early response from all the players has been fantastic and we’re delighted to be getting all the lads back together, with a few other friends, to rally round him and his family. In rugby we always look after own, whether it’s on the field or years after we’ve finished.”
”We’ll now be asking the North East rugby community to support Tank at Kingston Park next month. The weekend we’ve chosen is free for the Falcons as there’s no Premiership due to the European semi-finals. We’re asking local clubs to put forward one player each for the opposition on what should be a really special night. This way no club will be affected too much for their own fixtures the next day and we should also ensure widespread support from across the region.”
As well as attending on the evening people can also support via auctions, raffles, sponsorship and a just-giving donation page. All monies raised will go towards supporting Hope Elle as well as The Rugby Players’ Association’s official charity Restart Rugby, plus the RVI and Freeman Hospitals.