INTERNATIONAL rugby heroes returned to their roots for a celebratory dinner at Barnard Castle School in County Durham this week (3 August), bringing with them Rugby’s greatest prize, the Webb Ellis Cup.
Former pupils Rory Underwood and Rob Andrew, who is now Professional Rugby Director at the RFU (Rugby Football Union) and third highest point scorer for England, welcomed England rugby stars Jason Leonard and Ollie Phillips who accompanied the Cup throughout the Durham County Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour.
The Cup’s arrival at Barney signalled the final stage of the tour in Durham County before the prized trophy continues on its journey throughout England.
Over one hundred guests attended the exclusive evening event at the school, famed for producing talented rugby players, and had their photo taken with the iconic trophy. The guest list included rugby professionals, alumni, governors, staff, Durham County Rugby Football Union club members, officials and business guests. Regional dignitaries including Durham County Council Chairman Councillor Jan Blakey, Barnard Castle Town Mayor Sandra Moorhouse and Rt Rev Bishop of Durham Paul Butler also joined the party.
Multi-capped England international and former captain of Barnard Castle School’s 1st XV, Rob Andrew, said: “Rugby runs through the veins of Barney which is why it’s so exciting to have the Webb Ellis Cup here for the night and it’s an honour to have had so many special guests on the evening.
“It’s only a couple of months now before the tournament comes to our shores and we’ll hopefully see some Old Barnardians score points for the home nations once again.”
Barnard Castle School has one of the most prestigious rugby records in the country with an impressive list of high calibre players including the Underwood brothers, Mathew Tait, Lee Dickson and Tim Visser and has produced 37 U19 international rugby players, leading The Times to comment that it has “a happy knack of producing some of England’s finest rugby talents.”
Rob continued: “The success of Barney’s former pupils in rugby is testament to its teachers and staff but the school taught me more than simply how to play the game, my academic education has meant I could develop a career in the RFU.”
The Trophy Tour, which launched on June 10 and marks exactly 100 days-to-go to the opening match, will now go to Yorkshire to take part in a number of events and activities to help give fans the unique opportunity to build unforgettable memories as part of their own Rugby World Cup 2015 story. [Schedule information available via the website: rugbyworldcup.com/trophy-tour/events]
The Trophy Tour is travelling through Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Wales and England before arriving at Twickenham Stadium on September 18 ahead of Opening Ceremony of Rugby World Cup 2015.
Martin Pepper, sports director at Barnard Castle School, said: “As the birth place of so many talented English rugby players hopefully the cup’s sleepover at Barney will give us some luck in the tournament this autumn.
“The young players involved in the Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour have loved seeing and getting their photograph with the Web Ellis Cup, it’s inspiring to think of the stars who have held it up in the past – and the ones who will be collecting it in the future.”
To learn more about Barnard Castle School’s rugby and academic programmes, please visit www.barnardcastleschool.org.uk
Tickets for Rugby World Cup 2015 are still available and are on sale at tickets.rugbyworldcup.com. Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour information can be viewed at rugbyworldcup.com/trophy-tour. For more information about how to get involved in rugby in the Durham County area, go to www.durhamrugby.com