Northampton Saints have announced that they will host their ‘home’ game against Leicester Tigers at Twickenham in Round 6 of the Gallagher Premiership in aid of former player Rob Horne.
Australia international centre Horne was forced to retire from rugby at the end of last season after suffering a serious injury in the opening minutes of the derby game at Welford Road.
He will now be honoured in the first Twickenham meeting of the old rivals since the 2013 Premiership Final as they run out at English rugby HQ on Saturday, October 6 (kick-off 3.00pm).
“The outpouring of support for Rob at the end of last season from the whole rugby community in the East Midlands was overwhelming – and we wanted to act,” said Saints chairman John White.
“The club received countless requests from Saints and Tigers supporters for a fitting way in which they could both bid farewell to Rob and also support him.
“The Leicester Tigers’ chairman and board have also made it clear that they are very keen to help Rob in any way they can, and this is a superb way to do that.”
Tigers chairman Peter Tom CBE said: “Leicester and Northampton have always been fierce rivals on the pitch, but great friends and supporters of each other off the pitch.
“At tough times, the rugby family prides itself on pulling together to look after its own and we are happy to show our support for Rob and his family.”
Ticket prices start from £20 for adults and £10 for juniors, and supporters will have the option to make a contribution as they purchase tickets. There will also be fundraising opportunities on the day, with donations going towards Rob’s rehabilitation and ensuring some financial security for him and his family.
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Horne, who played 21 times last season before being named as Saints Player of the Season, said: “Everyone at the club has gone above and beyond to support me and my family through an incredibly difficult time.
“I’ve been humbled by the outpouring of support from Northampton Saints supporters and many of the Tigers fans that were at that game too. I am touched by the additional gesture the club are making in staging this game and I can’t wait to see my team-mates run out at Twickenham.
“I hope we can raise some awareness for Brachial Plexus injuries as well as being treated to another chapter in this storied rivalry.”
The RFU approached Saints to host a home match at Twickenham earlier this summer to help test their new East Stand development ahead of the autumn international series.
Saints’ chief executive Mark Darbon said the opportunity was an exciting one for the club.
“We were asked to help test the new East Stand redevelopment because of our fantastic supporter base and the size of this game – the East Midlands Derby is undeniably the biggest fixture in English club rugby.
“There was a significant financial incentive for the club to host the game – one we could not ignore – which enables us to maximise the funds we can raise for Rob.
“This is also a unique opportunity for Saints supporters to experience the brand-new Twickenham East Stand development before anyone else. I hope it’s a great day out for them at the home of English rugby.”
Horne will return to the UK from home in Australia to attend the fixture in October and deliver the matchball.