Three more teams faced the final Ultimate Big Boot of the season on Saturday, with one side making a late surge up the final standings.
Players from Ilkeston RFC took five catches in front of more than 20,000 supporters at the home of Leicester Tigers on Saturday, during half time of the final Gallagher Premiership match of the season against Bath Rugby.
The Ultimate Big boot, sponsored by De Montfort University (DMU) tests groups’ catching skills on the Welford Road turf with 10 high balls – and a jackpot of £2,000 for any team that can claim all 10.
Paul Shoebridge made one of the catches for the Ilkeston group, whose total saw them finish fourth in the final standings.
He said: “We wanted the 10, I won’t lie – and we certainly wanted to win the two grand – so in that respect we’re a little bit disappointed, but we all really, really enjoyed the moment.
“I’ve been coming down to Leicester Tigers for about 20 years now, and I think it’s the first time I’ve properly been on the pitch and involved in some sort of action, so it’s a bit of a dream come true.”
A young side from Oadby Wyggestonians RFC – nominated by competition sponsor DMU – also faced the challenge, and took their one and only catch with the final ball.
Jamie Brister, who is also a ball boy at Welford Road, was the player to claim it.
“Taking part in the Big Boot was really good,” he said. “Everyone said I wouldn’t catch one because I’m too small, so it felt really good to actually get one.
“You just try not to panic in front of all these supporters.”
The final team to take on the Ultimate Big Boot in 2018/19 were March Bears RFC from Peterborough, with their pair of catches putting them mid-table in the final standings.
William Burke, who took one of March’s catches, was keen to give his advice to the sides that face the challenge next season.
“Make sure that you have sticky hands and can actually catch a ball unlike some of my team-mates…” he joked.
“Seriously though, coming down onto the pitch and experiencing this has been awesome, even if having everyone around and watching [us] was a bit intense.”
Keep an eye on LeicesterTigers.com for this season’s full Ultimate Big Boot standings later this week.
To learn more about Group Days at Welford Road – including the Guard of Honour and Matchday Coaching Clinics – visit the link below.