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World champions top the bill at preview dinner

More than 300 guests heard from rugby internationals and a trio of World Cup winners at a special Rugby World Cup preview dinner at Welford Road on Tuesday.

Supported by Tigers partners Total Motion, the evening featured a three-course meal and interviews with internationals Geordan Murphy, Lewis Moody, David Denton, Mathew Tait and Tom Youngs plus southern hemisphere representatives Freddie Tuilagi, Sione Kalamafoni, Matt Toomua, Gaston Cortes and Brendon O’Connor.

Tait recalled playing in the 2007 World Cup Final as an “amazing experience for a 21-year-old,” adding: “We hadn’t played that well in the build-up and then lost 36-0 to South Africa in the second game so the signs weren’t good, but what we did have was a group of experienced leaders in the team and they knew how to win games. We might not have played the prettiest game but we built belief as we got through to the quarter-final and semi-final.”

The finale of the evening brought together Martin Johnson, Ben Kay and Jason Leonard from England’s 2003 World Cup-winning team. The trio have a total of 260 caps for England and 15 with the British & Irish Lions.

Johnson, the triumphant captain of that team, said: “All your World Cups are vivid memories. World Cups are about pressure, it is always there and we had some big games on the way to the final in ’03. We were down against Samoa, we were 10-3 down at half-time against Wales, but they’re the things you have to come through.”

Guests also heard from players and coaches from the Leicester Tigers Wheelchair Rugby Team as they build towards a national championship and also have European Championship ambitions with Team GB.

The raffle and auction on the evening were held in support of the Matt Hampson Foundation and Leicester Tigers Foundation which is looking to raise £20,000 to purchase 10 youth rugby wheelchairs to develop opportunities to participate in the sport.