Friday night’s clash between Northampton Saints and Gloucester Rugby is not just a battle between two English heavyweights, but also sees the launch of Premiership Rugby’s 2016 Movember campaign at Franklin’s Gardens.
It is fitting that this year’s launch coincides with a battle between last season’s most successful Movember teams – with Saints raising the most money last year just ahead of Gloucester, as the 12 teams go head-to-head to raise as many funds as possible in the Movember League. You can register your support here.
The Movember Foundation is the only global charity focused solely on men’s health, raising funds that deliver innovative, breakthrough research and support programmes to enable men to live happier, healthier and longer lives.
— Northampton Saints (@SaintsRugby) October 26, 2016
One of Northampton’s biggest campaigners is 13-year-old school boy Will Heath, who is about to embark on his third year raising funds and awareness.
Will started two years ago after his grandfather died of cancer and raised £6,500 in his first year, before more than doubling it a year later to £13,500.
“Because I could not grow one on my own I put on a fake moustache and dressed up as famous characters like Ron Burgundy, Keith Lemon and Hercule Poirot and posted pictures online,” he said.
“On my birthday that year I asked all of my friends and family to donate to the account instead of giving me presents.
“Some of my friends think it is a bit funny and weird. My family and I love rugby and I have been going since I was two months old.
“The club wanted to get involved and help. On Friday we have buckets for collections and lots of shaves as well.
“It is all for a good cause. The first year, people saw a cute 12-year-old trying to raise money and I think that is why I did so well and it has grown and grown ever since.”
On Friday night, a special ‘Mo Zone’ will encourage supporters to get involved and donate, including hosting a shave-off, face painting, “What’s your Mo” selfies, and throwing a ball through the Mo.
— Northampton Saints (@SaintsRugby) October 27, 2016
Northampton are also embracing the Foundation pre-game as well, with a big Mo flag set to be unfurled at Franklin’s Gardens and the players to be greeted on the pitch by a guard of ‘Mo-nour’.
Will campaigns alongside Saints season ticket holder and family friend Simon Hammerschmidt, who has raised a combined £8,500 in the last two years.
And Simon is desperate for all men to look after their health, raise awareness and get involved next month by donating and growing moustaches.
“I am as bald as a cue ball so whenever there is a chance to have some hair on my face I go for it,” he said.
“It is a really important thing and we don’t like to talk about it as blokes because we are all tough and it is not fun poking around there, looking for lumps but it is really important.
“So once a year we give blokes the kick up the backside they need to just make sure their health is in good shape and that they can control it.”
— Movember UK (@MovemberUK) October 27, 2016
While Northampton may have topped the fundraising table, Gloucester were not far behind them at all.
Led by Mo-skipper Jacob Rowan, the Cherry & Whites squad and supporters raised more than £9,000, with hooker Richard Hibbard leading the pack with an impressive £4,000.
But even though they were just beaten into second place last term, Rowan insists giving the help to others is the only result that matters.
He said: “We’re tried to do as much as possible for Movember and auctioned off a lot of kit – the international boys very kindly gave their kit which was signed.
“Movember is close to a lot of people’s hearts, in rugby union it’s always been a popular charity. We’ll be trying to do as much as we can do as it’s only going to benefit people.”
— Gloucester Rugby (@gloucesterrugby) October 27, 2016
It’s time to support your heroes’ facial furniture. Sign up to join your Premiership Rugby team, https://uk.movember.com/register