Six rugby legends throw weight behind Rowcroft’s Big Tackle

Categories: Care and Fundraising.
Six rugby stars including England international’s Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje, Marcus Smith, Henry Slade, Ellis Genge and Scotland international player Jonny Gray are championing Rowcroft Hospice’s fundraising event ‘The Big Tackle’, encouraging the people of South Devon to join the eight-mile walking challenge to score big in support of vital hospice care.

The six rugby legends appear in videos on Rowcroft’s social media channels asking people to get a team together and take part in the charity’s event on Saturday 9 March.


The Big Tackle (formerly known as ‘The Male Trail’) kicks off at Torquay Rugby Club from 10.30am, with participants welcomed back to the club afterwards for a free pint, pasty and the screening of the Six Nations rugby match between England and Ireland. You can book your place at The Big Tackle by signing up at before 4 March.

“Make sure you grab your team and sign up for The Big Tackle today,” said former England Captain Owen Farrell who plays as a fly-half for premier rugby club Saracens.

“I’m thrilled to support Rowcroft Hospice,” said Maro Itoje who has been a mainstay in the England squad over the past few years, and who captained England’s U20 team to victory at the Junior World Championship final in 2014. “Wishing you guys the best of luck!”

“Sign up now and get behind them. Come on!” said England’s international Ellis Genge who plays for premier rugby club Bristol Bears and is one of the most dynamic props in England.

“Take part in The Big Tackle walk and get your pint, pasty, and a fix of international rugby,” exclaimed Jonny Gray, Scotland international and Exeter Chiefs player. “It’s a chance to come together to talk about men’s grief, to get comfortable talking about uncomfortable things, with all the proceeds going to Rowcroft Hospice. Please sign up.”

“I’m a massive supporter of Rowcroft Hospice and The Big Tackle 2024,” added England International Marcus Smith who also plays as a fly-half for premiership rugby club Harlequins. “So make sure you grab your team and sign up!”

Plymouth-born local star Henry Slade who plays for England International and Exeter Chiefs said: “I’m thrilled to throw my support behind Rowcroft Hospice and The Big Tackle 2024.”

The Big Tackle not only serves as an important fundraising initiative for the hospice, but also provides an opportunity for people to ‘walk and talk,’ and to honour and remember loved ones lost. Aiming to shed light on the importance of addressing issues related to grief and bereavement that touch the lives of everyone in the community, the event reinforces that it is good to talk, and highlights the importance of seeking support if you need it. This is especially relevant to 33% of men who according to research carried out by StrongMen, cite grief as something that they most struggle to talk about.

Rowcroft Event Manager, Alexia Croft said: “We’re incredibly excited to have the support of these five rugby legends for Rowcroft Hospice’s ‘The Big Tackle’ event. With their backing, we’re aiming to make this year’s event the biggest and best yet. So please do support us for this eight-mile walking challenge and help us to raise vital funds to care for patients and their loved ones across South Devon. Together, we can make such a difference so grab your squad and sign up today!”

Open to all over the age of eight, The Big Tackle will channel the funds raised toward Rowcroft’s specialist care for patients with life-limiting illnesses and those closest to them, including bereavement support for families and carers following the death of a loved one who was cared for by the hospice.

Sponsored by WBW Solicitors, Torbay Clearance Services and Bays Brewery, and with the support of Torquay Rugby Club, The Big Tackle is one of Rowcroft’s flagship fundraising events. It costs just £28 to sign up (£20 for under 18s) and Rowcroft asks participants to either raise or donate a minimum of £20 to support the hospice. To sign up and for further information, please go to:


About Rowcroft Hospice

It takes time, compassion, medical expertise and money to help patients and families make the most of every day, but every year Rowcroft Hospice helps around 2,500 people living with life-limiting illnesses in South Devon to do just that.

By providing comfort, support and specialist services, the hospice enables families to share precious and joyful moments when they are needed most – whether it’s a beautiful wedding, remarkable reunion, simple thank you or gentle cuddle.

From Dartmouth to Dawlish and up onto Dartmoor, Rowcroft cares for 80% of its patients in their own homes with a team of community nurse specialists, social

workers, and bereavement volunteers. The team also provides occupational therapy, physiotherapy, complementary therapy, spiritual care and music therapy, delivering a holistic approach tailored to individual needs.

Day and night, Rowcroft’s award-winning Hospice at Home team provide free specialist support to patients at home in their last few of weeks of life. The team helps to monitor and manage symptoms to enable patients to be comfortable and also offers support for loved ones, enabling carers to take much needed breaks. The service includes a dedicated telephone support line 24 hrs a day.

In Rowcroft’s 12-bedded Inpatient Unit in Torquay, the hospice’s team provides specialist care for patients whose complex needs cannot be met at home. Along with high quality health and social care, we also offer delicious homecooked meals and access to our beautiful gardens. The welcoming and homely environment helps patients and families to make the most of precious time together.

Rowcroft is an independent charity with around 75% of its funding derived from the incredible generosity of local people. The hospice team fully acknowledges the current challenging economic climate and is grateful for the local community’s continued support through these tough times; every pound raised makes a real difference.

With an increasingly ageing local population, the demand for Rowcroft’s care has never been greater. The charity currently cares for around one in three people with life-limiting illnesses across South Devon and has ambitious plans to expand its care to reach more people.

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