Oxford Harlequins RFC’s Mini and Junior teams had a day to remember as they learnt the ropes from British & Irish Lions legends Gavin Hastings and Jason Robinson.

Players from the club took part in coaching sessions led by Robinson alongside a number of rugby-based activities as part of Howden’s Big Rugby Day out at Oxford University Rugby Club,

Oxford Harlequins were invited to the event along with a number of other Lions Origins Clubs as Howden began their principal partnership of the British & Irish Lions ahead of the 2025 tour to Australia and the inaugural women’s tour to New Zealand in 2027.

“Being involved in these sorts of events and having these professional players coming and showing that this is where they came from, it is a real inspiration for these kids to follow their dreams,” said Craig Haller, who coaches Oxford Harlequins mini and juniors.

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“Some of them are going to want to be professional rugby players. Some of them are just going to want to play, but at the end of the day this game is wholeheartedly about fun.

“To be invited to these events shows that the work everyone does at the club is making a difference and for everyone to see what we are doing. That is infectious. That is infectious not just for our club, but for all the local rugby clubs.

Seven Lions Origins Clubs, those that played a role in the career of a past Lion, were in attendance on Sunday afternoon to start Howden’s celebration of grassroots rugby.

Plaques will be awarded to the 711 clubs credited with beginning the careers of the 855 British & Irish Lions, something which Howden ambassador Gavin Hastings believes is important recognition for the work that community clubs do.

“Origins clubs are those clubs that Lions have come from and where they started their journey,” Hastings said.

“Howden are very keen to commemorate clubs the length and breadth of the country and will be given a plaque to say they are a Lions Origin Club.

“As a former Lion myself, some people just imagine that Lions play for the Lions and nobody else but community is very much a the heart of rugby and these four nations of ours. It’s where we all learned to play rugby. 

“Mini rugby has a massive part to play. Who know how many future Lions players are out on the pitch today?”

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