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Fan James surprised to be Cup Final mascot

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Lucky mascot James Bentley had no idea he was leading out the Leicester Tigers squad for the Anglo-Welsh Cup Final until shortly before kick-off in the showpiece event.

His mum Alison, from Derbyshire, won an online auction in aid of the Tigers Foundation and its Comic Relief activity for 12-year-old James to be a cup final mascot alongside Tigers’ other mascot Billy Craigen.
Bought as a birthday treat for James, he led out the Tigers at the Twickenham Stoop alongside captain Mat Tait. Tigers went on to beat Exeter Chiefs 16-12 to left the Anglo-Welsh Cup for a record third time.
James, who plays rugby for Bakewell Mannerians Under-12s, said: “It was so exciting to run out on the pitch. I was a little nervous but I had so much fun. Not many people can say they’ve been on the pitch of a cup final!”
James’s family are player sponsors of Will Evans through their company International Stones (UK) Limited and asked the Tigers flanker to break the news to him before the game.
His mum Alison said: “We were so proud to see James on the pitch with his heroes. We managed to keep the surprise quiet all the way up until an hour or so before kick-off, when he needed to get changed into his kit.
“We asked Will to give him the piece of paper with the itinerary on. He was so surprised, but so excited.
“I couldn’t believe I’d won the auction and it was great to see that the money raised is going towards the work that the Tigers Foundation are doing in the community.”
As part of the Foundation's work, Comic Relief is helping to fund the development of special education needs and disability (SEND) School programmes across the UK. Click here for more information about the Tigers Foundation.