The de Montfort University men’s and women’s teams will run out at the world-famous home of the Tigers tonight to take on University of Leicester in front of thousands of supporters.
The first teams, along with the men’s second XV, were shown around the Tigers’ dressing rooms, had a run out on the pitch and met British & Irish Lions Dan Cole and Tom Croft and Argentina internationals Gonzalo Camacho and Pablo Matera.
The Tigers players gave advice on everything from handling pre-match nerves to the psychology of picking yourself up if you fall behind in a match. There was also plenty of banter including their most embarrassing moments and their most feared opponents.
They also presented the teams with their shirts to cheers from team-mates, and it all came about thanks to DMU’s close partnership with the Tigers.
Women’s 1st XV captain and scrum half Laura Baker, a third year fine art student, said: “Getting the chance to talk to the Tigers players and walk out on the pitch is a brilliant experience. It has got everyone pumped up for the match. There is no doubt it is nerve-wracking but at the same time we are all massively excited.
“The majority of our team are Freshers so it is a new experience. This is something many of us will probably never get to do again so it is fantastic.”
Men’s 1st XV captain and second row Jake Goulson, a third year English student, said: “This has been a fantastic experience and it is great we have the opportunity at DMU to do this. To have a British and Irish Lions player hand you your shirt on the eve of the match – well you can’t get much better than that. It is all a bit surreal! We have prepared well and we are just looking forward to getting out on the pitch now and winning.”
England international Croft said: “I would say to the players, do not let the occasion get on top of you. Just play your game. It is a great experience to run out at Welford Road and one to cherish. Enjoy yourselves and do your best to make your own history.”
Cole said: “You have to respect the history of this place (Welford Road) but do not get overawed. There are a lot of great players who have run out onto the same pitch. Take the opportunity to enjoy it. You never know when you will have the chance to play on this famous pitch again.”
Gonzalo added: “You have to play like in any other match – and make it happen!”