Northamptonshire rugby fans turn out in force for World Cup trophy visit

Thousands of people turned out across Northamptonshire to have their photo taken with the Rugby World Cup ahead of next month’s tournament.

The iconic trophy – won by England in 2003 – visited Rushden & Higham RUFC, Northampton Saints and Althorp House on Tuesday, August 18, as part of its 100-day tour of the country.

Sea Cadets from TS Laforey, TS Diamond and TS 800 NAS (from Northampton, Wellingborough and Kettering respectively) attended with collection buckets.

Donations taken from rugby fans will be divided two thirds to the Mobbs Memorial Fund (which encourages young people into sport) and one third to the sea cadet units.

Fans at Rushden & Higham’s Manor Park ground were also treated to an appearance by former World Cup winner Jason Leonard, who made 114 appearances for England.

Rushden & Higham RUFC Chairman Dan Day felt the day was a ‘huge success’.

He said: “To have so many people turn up was fantastic, it was exactly what we wanted.

“We ran a mini-rugby festival which attracted lots of children, which hopefully encouraged them to start playing rugby more.

“It was great to see so many people enjoying rugby and having their photo with the iconic trophy, and Jason Leonard was absolutely fantastic.”

Rushden & Higham under-14 coach Jack Ilston said: “It was a brilliant event and such an honour for the club to host the World Cup.

“It was great to meet Jason Leonard and I hope it inspires more players to join.

“The young ones should be inspired to achieve anything they want.”

Trophy tour manager for the 2015 World Cup Lisa Hampton said: “We had a great reception and it was a privilege to visit a county where rugby is at its heart.

“It was fantastic to see the Northampton Saints squad signing autographs and children playing rugby on the lawn at Althorp House.”