Newark licensee prepares to scrum with the starsA Nottinghamshire licensee will be rubbing shoulders with sporting stars as he takes to the bench for a rugby Legends game in aid of the Louis Deacon Benefit Year.
Stuart Birch was invited to play in the match, which takes place at Leicester Tigers’ ground Welford Road on 21 April, after meeting the Tigers lock. The 52 year old publican, who runs Everards pub The Rose & Crown in Farndon, will be part of the rolling subs bench for the game and is hoping to see time on the pitch.
Stuart commented: “It’s an honour to have been invited to play alongside the legends. This really is every rugby player’s dream and I’m excited about having the chance to run out onto the pitch and join them.”
The match will see the Tigers Legends, captained by Martin Johnson, go up against Matt Hampson’s International Legends, led by Jason Robinson. Tickets cost £10 for adults, £5 for children and OAPs or £20 for a family of four, with all proceeds going to Louis Deacon’s chosen benefit year charities, The Matt Hampson Foundation and Scotty’s Little Soldiers.
Fifty regulars from The Rose & Crown will be accompanying Stuart on his trip to Welford Road and watching his every move. As part of the pub’s fundraising effort, a sweepstake has been organised to guess how much Stuart will contribute to the match. Any points scored and yards gained by Stuart will be monitored by one of the regulars to determine the winning guess.
The sporting licensee played for a number of rugby clubs in Coventry and Shropshire, as well as for Newark Veterans before retiring from the game two years ago. Stuart, who has taken part in a number of strongman challenges since hanging up his boots, has been back in training and is ready to get out onto the pitch.
He added: “After my first strongman event, we started a training club in the pub car park. We lift tyres and beer barrels filled with sand, which has helped to keep me in good shape for the match. The lads I train with have really got behind me and are looking forward to seeing me play.
Stuart has also recently opened a gym where he runs special training sessions for 12-16 year olds and over 50s.
“I understand how important it is to keep fit and build strength both in young and older people,” said Stuart. “Encouraging teenagers to get involved in sport can help them to lead healthy lifestyles as they get older, and just as valuable is working with the over 50s to ensure they keep full movement in their joints and ligaments.”
The Rose & Crown has raised around £12,000 for charitable causes in the last three years and a milk churn has been placed in the bar area to collect donations for Louis Deacon’s benefit year.
Stuart concluded: “Our customers have always been extremely generous and we’re very proud of the donations that we’ve been able to make in the past. With 50 people already planning to attend the game, we’ve made a significant contribution to the fund, but if we could do even more it would be amazing.
Louis Deacon visited the pub in January for a question and answer session with customers. His Tiger Green Bullet Ale, brewed by Everards in aid of his benefit year, has proved extremely popular at the pub, so it was the perfect opportunity for fans of the beer to meet the man himself.
Tickets for the Legends game are available through the Leicester Tigers ticket office, which is contactable on 08448561880 (option 2) or visit www.leicestertigers.co.uk.