Long Buckby RFC had a day to remember at Oxford University Rugby Club as they were coached by British & Irish Lions greats Jason Robinson and Gavin Hastings.

Taking part in Howden’s Big Rugby Day Out, members of the Northamptonshire club’s mini and juniors section were put through their paces by Robinson in a series of rugby-based activities.

Long Buckby were invited to the event alongside a number of other Lions Origins Clubs as Howden began life as principal partner of the British & Irish Lions ahead of the 2025 tour of Australia and the inaugural women’s tour of New Zealand in 2027.

Origins Clubs are those that former Lions began their rugby journey at, with David “Piggy” Powell starting his career at Long Buckby, and Howden hope the project can highlight the work done at grassroots level.

“The younger ones don’t quite fully understand the history of the British & Irish Lions,” said David Phillips, chairman of Long Buckby’s mini and juniors.

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“So to come today, they really get to see what rugby is all about, how inclusive it is, the history and how friendly it is. It is phenomenal.

“The coaches here are teaching technique that has taken them to the pinnacle of rugby. 

“These players have been there, they have seen it, so they will have seen new techniques, interacted with new skills and made friends with players from other clubs. 

“I can see four clubs taking part in an activity at the moment, it is good.”

Seven Origin Club attended the event in Oxford, where Rugby World Cup winners  Robinson and Maggie Alphonsi got hands on with coaching the next generation, along with taking plenty of selfies and signing autographs.

There are 711 Lions Origins Clubs that have produced 855 British & Irish Lions, and Howden are putting those clubs front and centre of their new partnership.

Howden ambassador Alphonsi was keen to praise the efforts that are putting community rugby first as they launched their partnership with the British & Irish Lions.

“The community game is important because that’s where our players come from,” Alphonsi said. 

“We talk about what happens at the top end, but it’s really about nurturing our players to come through. It’s nice talking to young kids because they really want to go far and just have fun. It’s great to see that Howden are investing in it.

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“It’s so good to have that parity, for Howden to sponsor both the men’s and the women’s, the first Lions tour for the women, it’s incredibly special. 

“Some of these women are going to wear that famous red jersey, I am gutted I’m not going to have that opportunity. 

“It’s nice to know that one day my son or my daughter can both play for the Lions.”

Now the principal sponsor of the British & Irish Lions, Howden will be front and centre of the famous red jersey when Andy Farrell’s team reach Australia next year.

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.