When Mike Tindall hung up his boots after almost two decades of rugby he did so with 75 International Caps to his name and 206 Premiership appearances. England's centre was the was the last member of the famous 2003 squad to bow out of professional rugby and like so many other members of that winning squad he remains a figurehead for the sport.
This summer, as well as keeping a watchful eye over national side's preparations, Mike is the force behind the inaugural Rugby Aid that will take place at the Twickenham Stoop in September. In front of a packed house England will challenge the Rest of the World in a charity rugby match with both sides combining former professional rugby players and celebrities. The match will be played in aid of Rugby for Heroes and is yet another illustration of the strong bond between the armed forces and rugby.
Since the announcement of the match speculation has been rife regarding the personnel for each team and on Monday a number of those confirmed to play met at The Stoop to formally launch Rugby Aid. The mood was jovial and upbeat however there were a few early nerves jangling about especially when Britain's most successful Strong Man competitor Terry Hollands turned up and the realisation dawned on the Rest Of The World team that Terry would be legitimately allowed to hunt them down and tackle them!
A man that is no stranger to the largest of stages and one that is an ambassador for Rugby For Heroes is Thinus Delport and Thinus shared with me his thoughts heading into the fixture;
"It is a great opportunity to mix with some of the old players and opponents and also some of the names from the celebrity world, especially in a Rugby World Cup Year to raise the profile for not just rugby but for Rugby For Heroes. The training programme and nutritional programme has been sent out so I've got 6 or 7 weeks to try and get into some form of shape!! I think feel comfortable that I know the other guys are also in a similar position."
As mentioned Thinus is not the only professional that will be taking to the field he will be joined by a whole host of individuals that we all know very well including Jason Robinson, Nick Kennedy, Bryan Redpath, Josh Lewsey, Serge Betsen and many more. Across the board it is fair to say that these guys are currently sporting varying degrees of match fitness as Thinus shared;
"When you do get on the field you still want to represent you, your team and the cause that everyone is out here for. I'm sure that there will be 100% commitment out on the field and equally some fun moments!! In terms of selection I've put forward a couple of names, a couple of fellow South Africans, so really looking forward to clash against England. The last time that I played against England was in the 2003 Rugby World Cup and England won of course, so I've got a couple of scores to settle!!"
The inaugural Rugby Aid promises to be a wholly competitive affair that will be played in superb spirits and most importantly should raise huge amounts for a tremendously deserving cause. As the weeks tick by more celebrities and former players will be announced and the individuals taking part will start to put their game faces on in order to ensure that they are on the winning side come the 4th September 2015. It promises to be one of the hottest tickets in town prior to the Rugby World Cup and being house at the Twickenham Stoop with Rugby HQ in sight should give our celebrities a little extra motivation during their training hours on the famous rugby player's endurance toy of choice, the Watt Bike!!