Northampton Saints have shifted their East Midlands derby against Leicester Tigers to Twickenham in October to honour and celebrate the career of the Rob Horne, who was forced to retire due to a life-changing arm injury in April.
Former Australia centre Horne was 28 when, approaching the end of his first season at Saints, he was injured in a tackle after just 13 seconds against Leicester at Welford Road, and suffered nerve damage to his right arm.
It was Horne’s first game as Saints captain, and his team-mates were given counselling after confirmation of the end of his career a week later. He won 34 caps for the Wallabies, and was Northampton’s player of the season last year.
Horne will return to the UK from Australia for the fixture on October 6, which will be the first time the rivals have met at Twickenham since the 2013 Premiership final.
Saints will donate £5 from each season ticket holder to a fund for Horne’s rehabilitation and to provide financial security for his family. Tickets start at £20, and supporters will be given the opportunity to donate then, too. Saints are laying on free coaches to get their season ticket holders to south-west London, as well as free drinks (alcoholic or not) until 2pm – an hour before kick-off.
The fixture also provides the RFU – who set the wheels in motion and provided financial incentive for it to take place – to test the East Stand redevelopment ahead of an Autumn International schedule that will see England host South Africa, New Zealand, Japan and Australia. There is no London double-header, which has acted as a curtain raiser for the season in recent years, due to the redevelopment.
The game takes place the same day as Harlequins meet Saracens at the Stoop, although that fixture is not kicking off until 7.30pm