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Tigers ABC to Z: The kick-off

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Our ABC to Z of Leicester Tigers kicks-off today with a look at the letter A.Tigers aim to make the long summer days until the new season go that little bit quicker for supporters with our A to Z celebration of all things Tigers.   A is for Ayerza We kick-off with front-row favourite Marcos Ayerza, who is acknowledged as one of the world’s best loosehead props.   After arriving from amateur rugby in Argentina in 2006, Ayerza has played in six Premiership Finals and two Heineken Cup Finals for Tigers.   A four-time league title winner, he also shared in the LV= Cup win in 2012. He made his 100th start for Tigers against Bath in March 2011 his 150th appearance was against the same opponents in a home win during 2011/12.   The 2014/15 campaign was his ninth at the club, marked his testimonial season and saw him extend his contract at Welford Road. Click here to watch our highlights video of him in action.   Capped 57 times by Argentina and part of the squad that finished third at the 2007 World Cup, Ayerza is set to be a cornerstone of the Pumas pack at this year’s showpiece tournament in England. Ayerza is one of five players to have been capped by Argentina while with Tigers, with the others beibng back-rower Pablo Materza and back three players Horacio Agulla, Lucas Amorosino and Gonzalo Camacho.   A is for ABC Club Ayerza is one of the latest in a long line of front-row forwards to be held in high esteem by Tigers fans, which includes the famed ABC Club.   Nicknamed by fans after the letters worn on their shirts, the front-row partnership of Graham Rowntree, Richard Cockerill and Darren Garforth has taken on legendary status – so much so they have a bar at Welford Road named after them!   The trio made 166 appearances together, a record for a Tigers front row, in a combined total of more than 800 games for the club. They also played collectively for England and for the Barbarians.   Loosehead prop Rowntree, now the England forwards coach, is sixth on Tigers’ all-time appearance list with 398, and was capped 54 times by England and three times by the British & Irish Lions. He won two European Cups, four Premiership titles, two domestic cups and a Courage league crown.   Capped 27 times by England, hooker Cockerill played 262 times for Tigers. He shared in two European Cups, four league titles and two domestic cups as a player and since taking over the club’s coaching reins in 2009 has directed Tigers to three Premiership titles and an LV= Cup.   As tighthead prop, Garforth was the third member of the ABC Club. He made 346 Tigers appearances and won 25 England caps. The first player to record 200 games in England’s top-flight, Garforth won five league titles and played in three European Cup Finals and four domestic cup finals.   A is for Allen It seems only right that on the day that he announced his retirement due to injury that we include Anthony Allen in our ABC to Z of Tigers.   He made 124 first-team appearances in six seasons with Leicester, playing in four Premiership Finals, including the club's title-winning seasons in 2010 and 2013. He was a Premiership Final try-scorer against Harlequins in 2012 and Man of the Match in the win over Northampton Saints a year later. Tigers Players' Player of the Year in 2010/11, he was appointed vice-captain before the 2013/14 season. Allen made his 100th start for the club in the Round 4 win at Exeter Chiefs, becoming the 207th player in the club's history to reach that landmark.   The reaction of teammates past and present, of opponents and of the public to his retirement underlines the respect in which he is held in the rugby family. Click here to watch our highlights video of Allen in action.   His namesake John Allen made 457 appearances at scrum-half between 1961 and 1975, putting him third on the club’s all-time appearance list. John was club captain in 1970/71, club secretary from 1982-95 and was appointed a life member in 1997, when he also became a non-executive director.   A is for atmosphere The matchday atmosphere at Welford Road is second-to-none with a reputation that is known right across the rugby world.   Tigers players past and present, their opponents, and supporters old and new talk in reverent terms of the unique matchday feeling at Welford Road.   Players will talk of the din generated by fans in the Holland & Barrett Stand that can be heard in the changing rooms before kick-off and of the noise that cascades down from the MET-Rx Stand, and fans will talk of the camaraderie between sets of home and away supporters.   And who can forget the atmosphere at those big Welford Road occasions down the years? The games against South Africa, against Toulouse in the snow, against Stade Francais in the European Cup quarter-final and not to mention the crackerjack East Midlands derbies against Northampton Saints. Visit Facebook.com/LeicesterTigers and tell us your favourite Welford Road atmosphere. A is for abandoned Tigers have been involved in nine matches that were abandoned before the final whistle, the most recent of which was the LV= Cup game against Harlequins at the Stoop. Gale-force winds blew debris and advertising boards on to the pitch forcing referee Gwyn Morris to call off the game 10 minutes early. Tigers lost 20-6.   Our ABC to Z of Leicester Tigers continues tomorrow with the letter B. Add your suggestions and contributions on the club’s Facebook and Twitter pages.