British & Irish Lions legend Gavin Hastings hailed the importance of rugby’s grassroots as he imparted some wisdom to the next generation of players.

The 1993 Tour captain was in attendance at British & Irish Lions principal sponsor Howden’s Big Rugby Day Out, which saw youth players from seven Lions Origin Clubs take place in a festival of rugby that included coaching sessions with fellow legend Jason Robinson.

Lions Origin Club are those that have played a role in the career of a Lion on their route to the top of the game, with Howden commemorating each community club’s role with a plaque.

And Hastings emphasised the vital role those clubs play in laying the foundations for the success of future British & Irish Lions success.

He said: “As a former Lion myself, some people just imagine that Lions play for the Lions and nobody else but community is very much a the heart of rugby and these four nations of ours, it’s where we all learned to play rugby. 

Reading Chronicle: Hastings was joined at the event by fellow rugby greats Jason Robinson, Maggie Alphonsi and Tyrone Howe.Hastings was joined at the event by fellow rugby greats Jason Robinson, Maggie Alphonsi and Tyrone Howe. (Image: Howden/British & Irish Lions)

“Mini rugby has a massive part to play. Who know how many future Lions players are out on the pitch today?

“My brother Scott and I were lucky enough to go on two Lions tours and even now we have that bond of having represented our club. I am proud to be a Watsonian and a Lions player that has come from there.

“The values of rugby, teamwork and looking out for one another, they are lessons for life that you learn by playing rugby.

“Rugby has given me so many lessons and allowed me to progress in other areas of my own life. The subliminal skills and the great coaching they are getting, they will hopefully remember it for the rest of their life.”

Hastings was speaking at the event as a Howden ambassador, with the company the new principal sponsor ahead of the men’s 2025 Tour to Australia and inaugural 2027 women’s Tour to New Zealand.

As the new principal sponsor of the British & Irish Lions, Howden’s logo is set to be front and centre on the famous red jersey in Australia next year, when the Lions will compete in front of their legendary fans for the first time in eight years.

Head of global sponsorships Giles Morgan underlined the honour of such a prestigious place in sporting history and reaffirmed Howden’s commitment to both the elite and community game.

“We want to meet all the Lions Origins clubs and celebrate them, not just because of history but for the future as well,” he said.

“The rugby family is enormous in this country and as a new sponsor we want to earn the right to be on the Lions jersey. 

“We want to get to know the rugby community, right the way across England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland and celebrating the origin clubs feels a great way to do that.”

As part of their partnership with The British & Irish Lions, Howden will be supporting the grassroots game