The Clash between Bath Rugby and Leicester Tigers at Twickenham will be the first of its kind in Aviva Premiership Rugby – but it will also be a first visit to Rugby HQ of any sort for flanker Brendon O’Connor.
A huge crowd is expected to be inside the home of English rugby on Saturday afternoon for a match of great significance on and off the field.
Part of the proceeds will be going towards the Help For Heroes charity and the Bath Rugby Foundation on what is the first occasion Bath have hired out the national stadium.
And what a crucial match to mark it, with Leicester going into it three points ahead of Bath in fourth place as the race to reach the Aviva Premiership Rugby semi-finals heats up.
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) April 5, 2017
Tigers’ O’Connor said: “Myself and a few of the other boys have never played there or even been to the stadium.
“From what I’ve heard, they’ve sold over 50,000 tickets and I’m sure there will be more sold by the time the game comes around.
“A lot of us are really excited to get out there and experience playing rugby at Twickenham. Everyone wants to be part of the team in that game.”
Leicester have gone through a spring renaissance after what was a very troubling winter that saw them fall to some heavy defeats both in Aviva Premiership Rugby and in the European Champions Cup.
It also led to the departure of director of rugby Richard Cockerill after eight years in charge, with the Tigers seemingly in danger of missing out on the semi-finals for the first time.
But after closing the gap on the top four, they gained confidence in winning the Anglo-Welsh Cup before leapfrogging Bath into fourth following a vital 36-31 victory at rivals Northampton Saints two weeks ago.
“I think that game was massive for us,” O’Connor added. “We’ve had a good few weeks in winning the Anglo-Welsh and winning a few games on the trot to get some momentum going.
“To keep those winning habits going was massive for us and hopefully we can take that into this weekend.
“For us, it’s been about getting our process right and playing the way we want to play.
“Unforced errors had been costing us in the past, but if we can get our detail right that will go a long way towards helping us to win games.”
Saturday’s showpiece is set to be the first match in charge for new head coach Matt O’Connor, who was part of Cockerill’s backroom staff the last time the Tigers won an Aviva Premiership Rugby title in 2013.
— Leicester Tigers (@LeicesterTigers) April 4, 2017
After replacing Aaron Mauger at the helm, he’ll be looking to make sure Leicester return to Twickenham towards the end of next month.
Former Blues man O’Connor concluded: “It’s been a tough season with plenty of things going on and our playing performances have been up and down, so getting into that top four finally was a nice feeling.
“We’ll be doing everything we can to keep us there and hopefully get another game at Twickenham in the final.”
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