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Unnoticed Tigers youngsters, keeping the game flowing

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They're the unsung, hard-working youngsters who can run as many metres as Jonny May and get just as many touches as George Ford on matchdays at Welford Road.

They don't wear a number on their back, get as big a cheer when they provide quick-ball for the team or spoken about when their quick feet sees them get out of the way of players at full-steam heading their way.

Who are we talking about?

The Leicester Tigers ball-boys!

As integral a part of ensuring the game continues to flow at full pace for the crowd to enjoy every available minute between kick-off and full-time, Tigers ball-boys have been provided by the Lancaster Academy for the last 25 years for each Welford Road fixture - Aviva Premiership, Anglo-Welsh Cup, European fixtures and even the A League on wet and windy Monday night's.

Last weekend's final Welford Road fixture for the 2017/18 season is a bittersweet one for this long-standing partnership, as the club says farewell and thank you to former Tigers Pete Sandford who has been integral in continuing the relationship between the club and academy in providing these eager youngsters for each fixture.

Sandford is retiring from his role with Lancaster Academy at the conclusion of the current academic year and leaves behind a legacy of commitment to a club he has spent years helping, on and off the pitch, as well as many grateful members of Leicester Tigers for his service.

Speaking about Sandord's retirement, Tigers Community Manager Steve Hanna said: "Pete has been the key figure in ensuring we have youngsters each home game who are willing to give up their time and a seat in the stands to work as part of the matchday team at Tigers."

"On behalf of the whole club, over all those years, we want to thank Pete and wish him a long and happy retirement - which hopefully includes a place among the supporters, enjoying the games at Welford Road," said Hanna.

While the role of a ball-boy may seem as simple as catching, drying and passing, it's far from as easy a task as that if you have ever taken the time to watch the amount of work the youngsters put in, something which Hanna also praised for the outgoing group from the current season.

"I just want to say a huge thank you to our dedicated team of ball boys," Hanna added.

"Their work largely goes unnoticed in all weathers, for every single Welford Road fixture - senior team and below - each season. They are here to ensure the game keeps flowing and continue to do a great job, which we're all grateful for - especially Tom Youngs and Tatafu Polota-Nau, who are probably the biggest beneficiaries to their efforts!"