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Saull to play in Mobbs Memorial Match

11 March 2013

  • Saracens flanker to guest for Bedford
  • East Midlands play Army A in curtain-raiser

Bedford Blues will be reinforced by the inclusion of Saracens and England Saxons flanker Andy Saull in their side for the Mobbs Memorial Match against the British Army at Goldington Road on Wednesday, March 13 (7.45pm).

As part of the ongoing relationship between the two clubs, Saracens will be providing a number of players recovering from injury, including Saull who played as a replacement for Saracens in Sunday’s LV= Cup semi-final defeat at Sale Sharks.

“The Mobbs Memorial Match is always a good opportunity for players needing some rugby to get game time and we are pleased to be able to include a player of Andy’s quality in the squad,” said Bedford director of rugby, Mike Rayer.

“We have a great working relationship with Saracens and this again shows that it is a two-way street where we are able to offer Andy the chance of a competitive fixture to help his continuing recuperation. I’m sure that the lads will enjoy having him in the squad and I’d imagine that the Army lads will enjoy going up against him.”

The Mobbs Memorial Match – which alternates between Bedford Blues and Northampton Saints – against the British Army kicks off at Goldington Road at 7.45pm with a curtain-raiser between an East Midlands XV and Army ‘A’ at 5.30pm. Tickets cost just £10 for adults and £2 for concessions.

The Mobbs Memorial Match, which was first played in 1921, honours Edgar Mobbs, a true England rugby legend and a hero of World War I.

Some of the most illustrious names in the history of English rugby have played in the Mobbs Memorial Match in either the colours of the East Midlands or the Barbarians, who played each other every year up until 2011.

Although the Barbarians announced that the 2011 fixture would be their last, the Mobbs Memorial Match lives on with the British Army facing Bedford Blues and Northampton Saints on alternate years.

Edgar Mobbs led the East Midlands, the Midlands, the South of England and the Barbarians, as well as his club for five seasons, something which was not matched until the mid-1990s.

His illustrious career included seven England caps, but he is as much remembered for what he did on the field of battle as for his rugby exploits.

Having been refused a commission upon the outbreak of World War I on grounds of age, Mobbs formed his own special corps and just over a month after war was declared, 400 men had volunteered to join him. The 264 who were passed fit became known as the Sportsman's Battalion and formed a large part of the 7th Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment.

Mobbs himself was wounded three times in battle, and in the recuperation from one injury played his final game of rugby in 1915. A return to his Battalion – by now as colonel – after his third injury coincided with the Battle of Passchendale, during which Mobbs became one of the 420,000 men to lose their lives.

He went down in folklore with the story that as he lay dying after trying to storm a German machine gun nest, Mobbs passed the map reference of the enemy to his runner to give to the Battalion Brigadier.

Mobbs' body was never found and there was no wife or child to mourn him. That did not stop a Mobbs Fund committee being formed, and the money they raised paid for a statue to honour him. Unveiled in front of thousands of Northamptonians in 1921, the statue now stands in the town's garden of rest.