Historic rugby club mark 150th anniversary with storied names

Painswick were among those to take part in the Howden and British & Irish Lions Big Rugby Day Out
Painswick were among those to take part in the Howden and British & Irish Lions Big Rugby Day Out

Painswick Rugby Club enjoyed a day to remember as they rubbed shoulders with British & Irish Lions legends Jason Robinson and Gavin Hastings.

Players from the club’s junior ranks were invited to Howden’s Big Rugby Day Out at Oxford University Rugby Club, where they took part in a coaching session from Robinson as well as tried their hand at a number of other rugby-based activities.

Painswick were invited alongside a number of other Lions Origin Clubs as Howden kickstarted their principal sponsorship of the British & Irish Lions ahead of next summer 2025 men’s tour and the inaugural women’s tour in 2027.

Origin Clubs are those that former Lions began their rugby journey at, with prop Tim Payne starting out at Painswick, with Howden hoping to shine a light on the brilliant work done in the community game.

“We were invited to bring the juniors along to give them a day out at the end of the season,” said Painswick club chairman Craig Mayo. “It was a great set-up here, plenty of games for the kids to play.

“Just keeping grassroots within the elite game is special. To invite the kids along makes them aware of the Lions, it gives them an insight into what they do.

“You see the elite game on TV and sometimes it can feel a million miles away but to be involved this closely with it, it’s fantastic, especially for the smaller village and grassroots clubs. With all the juniors here today, hopefully there will be some Lions amongst them.

“We are officially the oldest club in Gloucestershire, it was our 150th anniversary last year. We are just a good solid grassroots club, we try and engage with the local community as often as possible.

“We have got Tim’s signed Lions shirt up in the clubhouse which always draws some really good comments. We see Tim around the club every now and again, he’s always keen to work with us.”

Seven Origin Clubs were in attendance for the event in Oxford, where Rugby World Cup winner Robinson put on a number of coaching sessions throughout the morning as well as posing for photographs alongside Hastings and Women’s Rugby World Cup winner Maggie Alphonsi.

There are 711 Lions Origin Clubs who have produced 855 past British & Irish Lions, and Howden are putting them front and centre of their new sponsorship, something Howden ambassador Robinson believes sends out the perfect message to grassroots clubs up and down the country.

“Community is so important because without it we don’t have a game, it’s simple,” he said. “We need to build the players up, we need to inspire them, we need to get them playing at the highest possible level.

“There are so many people within the clubs who do so much work. The international game is based on grassroots. The more we can do to support clubs the better, which is where Howden’s investment in the game is massive. It’s not just the top level, it’s the grassroots.

“We know all the benefits that rugby has to offer kids, especially being in a team. The more we can do it; the more we can inspire, hopefully the stronger the game can be.”

Howden are the new principal sponsor of the British & Irish Lions, with their logo set to be front and centre on the famous red jersey in Australia next year, when the Lions will compete in front of their legendary fans for the first time in eight years.

Head of global sponsorships Giles Morgan underlined the honour of such a prestigious place in sporting history and reaffirmed Howden’s commitment to both the elite and community game.

“We want to meet all the Lions Origins clubs and celebrate them, not just because of history but for the future as well,” he said.

“The rugby family is enormous in this country and as a new sponsor we want to earn the right to be on the Lions jersey.

“We want to get to know the rugby community, right the way across England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland and celebrating the origin clubs feels a great way to do that.”

As part of their partnership with The British & Irish Lions, Howden will be supporting the grassroots game