Horne: Saints send-off will stay with me forever
Rob Horne says his Twickenham send-off will stay with him forever.
The 29-year-old was honoured during Saints' Gallagher Premiership clash with local rivals Leicester Tigers at the home of English rugby.
Horne was tragically forced into early retirement after an unfortunate incident during the opening exchanges of the east midlands derby at Welford Road in April.
He was left with a brachial plexus avulsion causing paralysis and chronic pain in his right arm, leading Saints to host the match at Twickenham to raise funds for his ongoing rehabilitation.
And the club has now announced that a six-figure sum was raised for the retired player at 'The Derby', which was attended by more than 40,000 supporters.
Horne delivered the match ball for the occasion and was given an extremely warm ovation.
And the former Australia international said: "I was completely humbled by the occasion on Saturday and I am so grateful for all the support that has been shown to me by Saints’ faithful supporters and the rugby community in England.
“My family and I want to thank the club for everything they have done for me since my accident; I know a huge amount of effort will have gone into planning and pulling off The Derby, and it just speaks volumes about what the club stands for.
“I loved my time playing in England, and even though I wish I could have stayed for longer, to be able to say goodbye in this way is something that will stay with me forever.”
Tigers won the Premiership clash 23-15 in torrential conditions at Twickenham, despite Saints outscoring their rivals by three tries to two.
But there was a silver lining for Northampton with 40,413 people in attendance, which alongside the club’s own donation on behalf of season ticket holders, funds raised from sales of special-edition Rob Horne t-shirts and a hugely successful public auction contributed to the total sum raised.
There were also substantial donations from ticket buyers and elite partner Carlsberg, while bucket shakes, programme sales and eco cup returns at Twickenham also contributed.
Saints chief executive Mark Darbon said: “Of course, the match itself saw Tigers wrestle back the east midlands bragging rights for the time being – we’ll certainly be looking to change that when we play them again later this season.
“But I hope Saints supporters can see how important this game was in raising such a substantial amount of money for Rob, and the fact that so many people turned out shows just how appreciated and respected he is still in Northampton.
"It was a send-off befitting his qualities as a man and as a player.
“We are really proud of the sum raised; it is far higher than we could have ever hoped for had we kept the game at Franklin’s Gardens, and I must commend the club’s staff who worked tirelessly to put on such a fantastic event.
“I would also like to thank the RFU for helping stage this match. The new east stand development is an excellent addition to an already superb stadium and we wish them luck in hosting the forthcoming Autumn Internationals.”