Willow blog

Rugby World Cup fever helps raise funds for Willow

September 17, 2015

Six of rugby’s most inspirational World Cup heroes joined forces for the Rugby Captains Dinner at London’s Battersea Evolution, organised by SMART Experiences.  The spectacular evening, a real treat for rugby fans, raised more than £240,000 on the night for Willow and one other charity – Restart, the Rugby Players’ Charity.

The six World Cup winning Captains – Martin Johnson (England), David Kirk (New Zealand), Francois Pienaar (South Africa), Nick Farr-Jones (Australia), John Smit (South Africa) and John Eales (Australia) – took part in an entertaining Q&A, offering guests a fascinating insight in to their rugby careers.

The evening was hosted by England rugby legend, Martin Bayfield and other rugby greats to attend included Ben Kay, Ugo Monye, Paul Doran-Jones, James Hook, Tom Croft, Alex Corbisiero, Dorian West, Matt Poole and many more.

From a four-ball tournament with Mark Cueto, Kyran Bracken, Neil Back and Hugo Southwell to exclusive hospitality tickets at the England v Australia match, the 1,330+ strong crowd dug deep into their pockets to raise a staggering amount.

The evening also included a rousing performance from RFU mezzo soprano Laura Wright of ‘Swing Lo, Sweet Chariot’ as guests took their seats to a dinner especially created for the occasion by Michelin-starred chef, Angela Hartnett.

Greg Lawson, CEO of SMART Experiences, said: “The Rugby Captains Dinner combined my passions of rugby and great hospitality experiences, which delivered not only a fantastic amount to charity but to our guests as well.

It was an action-packed evening of sporting entertainment, from Angela Hartnett’s enticing menu, to Ben Kay’s bar chat to Laura Wright with her amazing renditions of the two great English rugby anthems, culminating in the captains’ fascinating stories from their World Cup triumphs and insights into the 2015 tournament.

I’m incredibly proud of my team that delivered not only the catering, but produced an outstanding and entertaining event, a truly memorable Smart Experience which we will continue on an annual basis, making this a truly landmark occassion.”

View the photographs