The White Horse in Parsons Green is set to become a mecca for stylish rugby fans this month when the British & Irish Lions stop by for a family festival of rugby before heading off on their tour to New Zealand…
Words: Louisa Chender
To celebrate this springtime rugby fest, official outfitters and collaborators Thomas Pink will combine style with skill by transforming the Parsons Green pub (known affectionately as the Sloaney Pony) into the bright and bold ‘Pink Lion Rugby Club’ on Saturday 20 May.
They will also be taking over the green. Parents can put their children forward for a rugby masterclass that will see rugby legends Brian O’Driscoll and Matt Dawson showing the kids how to break down core skills and work together as a winning team, before settling down for a Q&A entitled ‘The Lions’ Tales’.
‘It’s amazing to be involved with something that gives back to the fans,’ Pink Lion Rugby Club captain O’Driscoll commented. ‘I’d definitely be joining if I wasn’t already its captain!’
Phil Vickery will be let loose on the BBQ to flip Kiwi-style burgers and show off his MasterChef know-how. For those who want to stay undercover, the Pink Lion Rugby Club will also be screening behind the scenes footage and presenting the Thomas Pink Lions’ Collection.
Alex Field, Thomas Pink’s Marketing Director and a loyal fan, was keen to convey the ‘smart, but spontaneous’ side to the brand when we caught up with him to find out more about the collaboration. ‘We like to take over spaces that we know rugby and style fans go to, and turn them into a mecca,’ he says.
We like to take over spaces that we know rugby and style fans go to, and turn them into a mecca
‘Players will be at the ready to sign limited edition pink rugby balls, and Thomas Pink have thought of everything. They’ll even be painting the pub pink!’
The event merges style with sport, and as a Lion legend, O’Driscoll – who captained the New Zealand tour himself in 2005 – is the perfect ambassador. ‘He’s amazing,’ Field enthuses. ‘He’s arguably the most respected Lion ever, and people hang on his every word.
‘He’s also got a real eye for style. I don’t know if you’ve noticed (we had), but he’s always immaculately turned out. He has got his own signature look, and he’s a big fan of Thomas Pink himself, so that made life easy.’
After dressing the Lions on their last tour, Thomas Pink has designed an athletic, fitted shirt for people who work out, adding class to your average training session as well as to your day-to-day or weekend wardrobe. The piece takes advantage of the partnership to establish a more ‘lifestyle’ rugby shirt.
It’s the only time that the Lions come out in public before they go on what is probably going to be the biggest tour of their lives
Field also let us in on the stylish secret of the collection: ‘We did something fun with the lining of the blazers,’ he reveals. ‘We’ve written stories within the blazers and there are some exclusive quotes from O’Driscoll. Fans can pick up little anecdotes cleverly designed in the style of a newspaper.’
This isn’t the first time that Thomas Pink have tailored their creative side to rugby fans. They hosted a similar event before the tour to Australia in 2013, attracting around 3,000 people throughout the day. ‘It’s the only time really that the Lions come out in public before they go on tour. It’s a really nice chance for the public to see them and to hear them speak about what is probably going to be the biggest tour of their lives.’
O’Driscoll has put his firm support behind Sam Warburton as the Lions’ captain, but what does Field think of their chances? ‘I’m quietly optimistic. I think if we win the first test, we’ll be on course to win the series.’
Entry is complimentary. Register at pinklionrugbyclub.co.uk