A clutch of international rugby stars were on hand to lend their support to a fund-raising dinner ahead of the Northampton School for Boys Under-16s’ tour of New Zealand and Australia this summer.
Saints and England lock Courtney Lawes was one of the special guests at the dinner on Wednesday night, along with club and international team-mate Teimana Harrison, Saints back Tom Collins and former England stars Paul Grayson, Jon Sleightolme and Nick Beal.
TV and radio presenter John Inverdale was also present, and he conducted interviews with the star names to entertain the crowd.
The dinner was held at the Old Northamptonians sports ground clubhouse on Billing Road, and a total of 130 guests took their places, as well as the 25 boys that are scheduled to go on the tour which is being managed by teacher Paul Bryant.
The tour will see the boys play six games of top standard rugby against schools and colleges, and they will also visit Auckland in New Zealand where they will be hosted by some tough Maori sides, and stay with local families.
The tour will also include many cultural and sporting experiences, and is set to be a once in a lifetime experience for all those involved.
The dinner was staged to raise funds for the trip, and an amazing £15,500 was collected on the night, with the funds boosted by an auction.
Among the prizes up for grabs, a signed 2014 Lawes shirt from an England versus All Blacks Test went for £700, and England and British & Irish Lions physio Phil Pask’s full England kit sold for £250.
There were also 17 items in a silent auction, including an England cricket sweater worn by Northampton’s own Graeme Swann, an England signed one-day autographed bat, and an England rugby shirt signed by nine of Saints’ England internationals, which sold for £520. The evening was a huge success.