The Old Ratcliffians brought rugby back into their sporting calendar with this charity rugby festival on Sunday, 25th September in aid of The Matt Hampson Foundation


Following the successful resurgence of Old Ratcliffian rugby over the past few years, it was agreed by this year’s President of the Ratcliffian Association, Sam Bird (98) that the Association would host a 10s Rugby Festival in memory of a fellow class mate, Patch Gamble (98) who had tragically been killed in a car accident in 2000.


Sam, a keen rugby enthusiast , who has played in some of the previous OR fixtures, captained the President’s Team and James Montgomery-Stuart (12) captained the second Old Ratcliffian team, ‘the Juniors’, aptly named as the President’s team were for the most part well into their thirties and mostly past their rugby playing days!


Jackie Bennett, ex Secretary of the Ratcliffian Association conceived the idea with Sam during her time at Ratcliffe and offered to take on the majority of the organisation of the event with help from her daughter, Alex Slack (03) who had just started in her new position in the Association Office.  It was decided that any money raised would go to the Matt Hampson Foundation.  Matt was paralysed in rugby accident training for England Under 21s some years before and a Foundation to help other sportsmen with similar injuries has been set up in Leicestershire.  The Association was able to donate £1,500 to the Foundation.

(PHOTO 3) Jackie Bennett, Alex Slack (03) presenting Matt Hampson with a £1,500 cheque.

The date was set and the planning went into overdrive.  The most difficult part was to enlist enough keen rugby players to give up a Sunday to risk life and limb playing in a 10s rugby festival.  Jackie was lucky enough to have her brother, Myles Halley (75) as the technical advisor, being a RFU referee and a keen rugby enthusiast. 

Eventually she managed to persuade teams from the alumni  of other local public schools :Old Loughburians, Old Tridents, Old Oakhamians (they joined forces with the Old Tridents), and Old Uppinghamians.  Sadly the team of Old Princethorpians had to withdraw at the last minute.

The rugby was keenly contested with 5 teams playing in a ‘round robin’ competition.  The Old Uppinghamians came second with the ‘Man of the Match’ award going to one of their team, but the winners of the first Patch Gamble 10’s Rugby Festival was the combined team of Old Oakhamians and Old Tridents.  The winning captains were Alex Gamble, son of Old Ratcliffian, Charles Gamble (75) and Nick Halley, son of Myles Halley (75) maintaining the Ratcliffe thread throughout.


The whole event was staged on the three pitches on the airfield.  It was a beautiful day perfect for a family outing on a Sunday.  The organisers were determined to ensure that the youngsters had enough to keep them occupied.  There was a huge bouncy slide, a face painter, a blow up rugby game, provided by the Matt Hampson Foundation, an ice cream van and a rugby obstacle course on the field immediately behind the Prep School. 

A marquee with a bar and a BBQ provided by Ratcliffe’s catering department ensured that the adults were also well fed and watered.


Matthew Hoggard, one of England’s most famous fast bowlers, whose son Ernie is a student at Ratcliffe, kindly agreed to act as Master of Ceremonies.  Ratcliffe’s Chair of Governors, Louis Massarella (91) and rugby coach, Martin Kaye, were referees along with Myles Halley (75).


The Association is particularly grateful to Peter Wheeler, ex Leicester Tigers and England, for his support and generosity and for arranging for the RFU to donate £500 to the event.

We are also grateful to all the local companies who sponsored this event: Camozzi Pneumatics, Bentons, Peter Hull Waste Services Ltd., Gamble Food Solutions Ltd., Adey Steel Ltd. and also to all the generous donors of the auction and raffle prizes too many to mention. Our thanks go to Ed Gamble (95) for once again taking on the unenviable job as auctioneer.

Judging by the response after the event, everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves and thankfully the services of the paramedics on site were hardly needed, except for Dan Amies(10) concussion and a dead leg.  However many injuries only came to light the next day with some broken ribs and various other minor injuries causing a request for a less dangerous tournament in memory of Patch next time.  Therefore, it has been decided that the next tournament will be ‘ mixed touch rugby’ for all abilities on Saturday 2nd September.

Photos of the event can be found on our Facebook Page:


For more information about The Matt Hampson Foundation and the great work they do go to:


Jackie Bennett

Forthcoming Events

24 Dec
Meetings @ Ratcliffe College
09 Feb
Dinners @ Crypt at St Etheldreda's, Ely Place, London
19 Apr