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Ford: Twickenham clash 'about more than rugby'

For George Ford there is nothing like an East Midlands Derby and for anyone who has attended one or even watched on television, it is hard to argue.

Yet Saturday’s clash between Leicester Tigers and Northampton Saints at Twickenham will be more poignant than ever, and the Tigers fly-half admits that, for once, the rivalry is not the biggest part of the match.

The encounter will be played in aid of Rob Horne, the Saints centre who was forced to retire last season when he suffered nerve damage in his arm in the last meeting between the teams at Welford Road.

The former Australia international was left with a paralysed right arm after the accident, and his injury has brought the rugby community together.

Ford admits that the Twickenham encounter is about more than bragging rights in the East Midlands.

He said: “What happened to Rob in our game rocked the rugby world so for the game to come together like it is going to in this fixture at Twickenham and in the derby between Saints and Leicester is going to be huge.

“It’s the least we can do for someone like Rob, who has had an unfortunate injury.

“The rivalry is huge between the two teams and I don’t think that will ever change, but sometimes things happen and there are things in life that are bigger than a game, and this is an event that is.

“As soon as the whistle goes, both teams will be going for the same thing and going for a win. But there is a bigger picture to it, supporting Rob and what’s happened and coming together with the rugby world at a great stadium.

“As soon as you go to a venue like Twickenham, the nature of the game goes up another two or three levels. There will be a big crowd and the derby will add to that. When it’s Twickenham, it’s always very special.”