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Hand it over now - and forever

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Welford Road is 'Rugby Venue of the Year'. Officially. A title well deserved. The Tig has one worry with the gong, however, and that is the 'of the year' bit.

Why not make this award like the John Player Cup and hand it over to the Tigers in perpetuity?

Welford Road is the biggest proper club rugby ground in the country, has been for years, and it’s certainly the best in terms of the level of support. It has also been home to so many historic occasions and biggest names (and biggest men!) in the game that it is impossible to recount them in one go.

Everyone has their Welford Road greatest hits – from the glamour of the Barbarians, the divisional and representative matches over the years, the title-winning games, the record unbeaten home run, the European classics, seeing the World Cup paraded by seven of the men who made it possible, the domestic trophy presentations and the fantastic wins.

But for The Tig, right alongside these amazing memories are little snapshots in hundreds of other matches – a Freddie Tuilagi try in injury time against Gloucester, a Manu hit on Carlos Spencer, any break by Austin, a double-tackle on 9 and 10 by Neil Back, the Castro try of the season, the Springboks, the Haka. Just for starters.

The massive impact of Dan Cole as Tigers overwhelmed Wasps and overcame the winter just a couple of years ago, seeing Lote Tuqiri in a Tigers shirt, Geordan’s incredible ball-skills, Julian White and Andrew Sheridan, Louis Deacon sprinting clear of the Stade Francais fly-half.

There are many, many more. But for The Tig these are the cherry on the icing on the cake.

What makes Tigers the 'Rugby Venue of any Year' is the support from the crowd and the commitment to the shirt of the players.

You see it in their faces as they walk out through the fans on the terrace, they hear it when they start to exert pressure on opponents, we all feel it when the going gets tough.

That is what a rugby venue is all about.

That is what Welford Road is all about.

Well done Welford Road, well done Tigers, well done supporters.