The Mobbs Memorial Match is one of the driving forces in developing youth rugby in the East Midlands, according to East Midlands Rugby Union chairman Bob Taylor.
Proceeds from the Match, which sees the British Army take on Northampton Saints and Bedford Blues on a biennial basis, go towards supporting the charitable aims of the Mobbs Memorial Trust, which donates in the region of £15,000 per year to junior clubs in the region.
And according to Taylor, who himself was a regular in the Match as a player, the monies raised make a massive difference in growing the sport.
“The Mobbs Memorial Match is vital for us,” Taylor says. “The funds it generates enables us to make significant donations to clubs across the East Midlands, which in turn can be used for anything from providing new kit for teams to improving facilities for age-grade club teams and making clubhouses more enjoyable places to be in.
“Our aim has always been in growing rugby union in the area, and the Mobbs Memorial Trust gives clubs the ability to concentrate on doing just that.”
Taylor’s time on the pitch coincided with a period when the Mobbs Memorial Match was a de facto England trial, with many of the country’s top players turning out for either the East Midlands or Barbarians. Indeed, Taylor credits his own selection in the 1968 British and Irish Lions squad to how he played in that year’s Mobbs Match.
The significance may have waned somewhat in the professional era, but the Match has still provided a useful showcase for some talented up-and-coming players with the likes of current first team regulars Teimana Harrison, James Craig, Harry Mallinder, Tom Collins all seeing action against the Army two years ago.
That 2014 match saw nearly 2,500 supporters treated to 11 tries and 76 points and Taylor is hoping the springtime kick off – this year’s game is being staged a month later than usual – will encourage more people to come along.
“We know that in the professional era the Mobbs Memorial Match is not going to be as big as it was in years gone by, when the Gardens would be sold out weeks in advance, but it has taken on new meaning in the present day,” he says.
“It’s exciting to see the Saints use the game to blood their youngsters against a team that they would not normally come up against, and when you look back at the squads from two years ago it’s good to see how far those players have come.
“The Match has also given some extra banter – if it were needed – between the Saints and their old rivals from Bedford as to who gets the bigger crowds, sees the more tries, and generates the most revenue!
“It’s all in good spirit, and with this year’s match being played in April hopefully we’ll have a lovely warm evening which will see more people come to Franklin’s Gardens.”
Tickets for the 2016 Mobbs Memorial Match are available now at www.northamptonsaints.co.uk/buytickets with adults able to book for £10 and juniors for £3, and by using [email protected] supporters can save themselves the admin fees.
CashBack is available on adult tickets sold through cadets, charities and clubs; email [email protected] for more details.