Rugby 'shrine' pub in Leicester becomes Grassroots Sports Champion

Step into the back bar at The Old Horse in Leicester and you’ll be in no doubt that this is a rugby pub!  Its links with local Aylestone Athletic Rugby Club – which it has supported for 27 years – are evident in the display of trophies on the back bar, team shirts on the walls and a low beam above the bar proudly bearing the club name.

By Ros Shiel, Director, ShielPorter Communications

11 August 2022

Licensee at the Everards pub, Kevin Shepherdson says: “Rugby is part of our DNA. Aylestone RFC have been playing and training on Victoria Park, just over the road from us, for many years – since their original ground was given over to allotments in the War!  We sponsor their kit, put on food and drink after matches and training sessions and host other social events for them; we held a farewell event for a long-standing player, and there’s a family rounders match coming up ahead of the new season. Not a lot happens at Aylestone that we’re not involved in!

“Our support for Aylestone embraces not just the current team but older generations too; the club is 103 years old, and former players stay involved, watching the matches and then coming here for a drink or two.  I love seeing the young players and older gents enjoying a pint and a chat together, united by their shared love of the game: it’s just what a community pub should be all about, connecting people and combating social isolation.

“In terms of commercial return for our sponsorship, we have two teams coming in for drinks after every match during the rugby season – and the pre-season training, which starts mid-July. So that’s about 60 people, which means we never have a quiet Saturday night, even during the slower winter months. And they’re a great bunch of lads, we’re always happy to see them, and we share in their success – the First Team won their league last season and the celebrations in here were quite something!

“Showing live sport is also important to us, and our customers enjoy watching it on the big screen together, so it’s another way of bringing people together. And it’s not just about rugby, we screen football and cricket as well, so we reach a broader group of customers.

“We’re happy to have become a Grassroots Sports Champion: after all, that’s exactly what we are! I know from talking to Aylestone, and the away teams who come in here, that money’s tight for many local clubs these days, so we’re proud to helping, and we can see the positive effect that being part of the club has on the players’ physical and mental health.”

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