- Buy tickets for Saints v Tigers - here
- Match is in aid of Rob Horne
For George Ford there is nothing like an East Midlands Derby and for anyone who has attended one or even watched on TV, it is hard to argue.
And yet Saturday’s clash at Twickenham will be more poignant than ever, and the Leicester Tigers fly-half admits that for once, the rivalry is not the biggest part of the match.
The encounter at Twickenham will be played in aid of Rob Horne, the former Saints centre who was forced to retire this year when he suffered nerve damage in his arm in the last meeting between the teams.
The former Australian international was left with a paralysed right arm after the accident, and his injury has brought the rugby community together.
And Tigers fly half Ford readily admits that the Twickenham encounter is about much more than bragging rights in the east Midlands.
“It makes it even more special, the aim is to try to promote the game and get some donations off the back of it," said Ford.
“The tragedy of what happened to Rob in our game last year really rocked the rugby world so for the game to come together like it is going to in this fixture at Twickenham and in the derby between Saints and Leicester is going to be huge.
“It’s the least we can do for someone like Rob, who has had an unfortunate injury.
“The rivalry is huge between the two teams and I don’t think that will ever change, but sometimes things happen and there are things in life that are bigger than a rugby game, and this is an event that is.
“It will be great for everyone to watch a game between two good teams but also for Rob after a tragedy that did rock the rugby world and brought everybody together in support. It will be very special.”
'An extra edge'
Both Tigers and Saints sealed victories at the weekend and Ford says he is relishing the encounter on Saturday (Kick off 3pm).
He added: “From our point of view, we’re there to play a game of rugby and hopefully win a game of rugby.
“As soon as the whistle goes, both teams will be going for the same thing and going for a win. But there is a bigger picture to it, supporting Rob and what’s happened and coming together with the rugby world at a great stadium.
“There’s nothing like it (East Midlands Derby), all previous form goes out the window, it doesn’t matter if you’re in good form or bad form as a team, the derby is a one-off game. It’s always massively intense and physical, that’s the first thing I’ve always found. They are close matches as well.
“As soon as you go to a venue like Twickenham, the nature of the game goes up another two or three levels. There will be a big crowd and the derby will add to that. When it’s Twickenham, it’s always very special. I’ve been lucky to play a few club matches there and there’s always an extra edge to it so it should be a great occasion.”
To buy tickets for the match at Twickenham click here