Rob Horne says he was blown away by the support shown at Twickenham last Saturday, with Northampton Saints today announcing that a six-figure sum was raised for the player at The Derby.
The 29-year-old was honoured during the club’s Gallagher Premiership clash against local rivals Leicester Tigers at the home of English rugby, after tragically being forced into early retirement by injury during the East-Midlands Derby at Welford Road last season.
Horne was left with a brachial plexus avulsion, causing paralysis and chronic pain in his right arm, leading Saints to host the match at Twickenham to raise funds for his ongoing rehabilitation.
And with the wider rugby family coming together to support Horne, more than 40,000 supporters gave the former Australia international a fitting send-off which saw him deliver the matchball to a rapturous ovation.
“I was completely humbled by the occasion on Saturday and I am so grateful for all the support that has been shown to me by Saints’ faithful supporters and the rugby community in England,” said Horne.
“My family and I want to thank the club for everything they have done for me since my accident. I loved my time playing in England, and even though I wish I could have stayed for longer, to be able to say goodbye in this way is something that will stay with me forever.”
An attendance of 40,413 and the club’s own donation on behalf of season ticket holders, funds raised from sales of special-edition T-shirts and a successful public auction contributed to the total sum raised.
There were also substantial donations from ticket buyers and partner Carlsberg, while bucket collections, programme sales and cup returns at Twickenham also contributed.
Saints chief executive Mark Darbon added: “Of course, the match itself saw Tigers wrestle back the East Midlands bragging rights for the time being – we’ll certainly be looking to change that when we play them again later this season.
“But I hope Saints supporters can see how important this game was in raising a substantial amount of money for Rob and the fact that so many people turned out shows just how appreciated and respected he is still in Northampton. It was a send-off befitting his qualities as a man and as a player.
“We are really proud of the sum raised; it is far higher than we could have ever hoped for had we kept the game at Franklin’s Gardens, and I must commend the club’s staff who worked tirelessly to put on such a fantastic event.
“I would also like to thank the RFU for helping stage this match.”