Our Patrons

In this section:

Maggie Alphonsi MBE

Maggie Alphonsi is the face of international women’s rugby and arguably one of the most well-known names in women’s team sports on the planet. Before announcing her international retirement in 2014, she represented her country an impressive 74 times, scored 28 tries, and helped England win a record breaking seven consecutive Six Nations crowns. She was also an integral member of the team that won the 2014 Rugby World Cup for the first time in 20 years and was part of the team that won the BBC’s Sports Personality Team of the Year award.


In 2016, Maggie made history by becoming the first England Women’s player to be elected as a National Member of the Rugby Football Union’s Council. She is one of just four females on the 56-strong Council and her role is to be a person of experience and influence in the Game, which includes a leading role in the Diversity & Inclusion steering Group.

Sara Cox

Since becoming the world’s first professional female rugby union referee in 2016 Sara Cox has continued to break through barriers at every stage of her career, becoming the first female to referee a Premiership Rugby Cup match in 2018 and, more recently, becoming the first woman to referee a Premiership Rugby League Match. Her work takes her round the globe; she has officiated at the Commonwealths, Women’s World Cups and twice at the Olympics, the first time in Rio.

On the 200th anniversary Cox says “I am delighted to be a Patron for the 200th anniversary celebrations; this is a fantastic opportunity to encourage more people to get involved in the game in any role”

Lawrence Dallaglio OBE

Lawrence Dallaglio won 85 caps for England and was part of the 2003 RWC winning team. He is one of a very small number of players to have won both the Rugby World Cup and Sevens World Cup. He has also toured with the British & Irish Lions. Dallagio captained England 22 times as England No8. He retired from international rugby in 2007 as one of England’ most outstanding players.

On the 200th anniversary Dallaglio says, “I am delighted to be involved in the anniversary celebrations of rugby football. Two hundred years on from when Webb Ellis first took the ball in his arms and ran with, we are not just running with the ball, we are using the ball to change lives. The game of rugby is such a wonderful and supportive sport for everyone involved.”

Alex Grove

Alex attended Rugby School (SF) from 2001 to 2006, following which he joined Worcester Warriors Rugby Club. He represented The Warriors on 153 occasions across a ten-year period, whilst also having a spell with Edinburgh Rugby in the Scottish capital. Alex made his debut for Scotland in the 2009 Autumn series with wins against Fiji and Australia at Murrayfield before being called up to the 2010 Six Nations squad. He went on to tour Argentina with the Scotland squad in 2010 and Australia, Fiji and Samoa in 2012.

“I have extremely fond memories from my time at Rugby School, many of which involve running out on The Close for the XV. Despite having played at some great rugby grounds across different countries, The Close is my favourite of them all and it is fitting that Rugby School is celebrating the 200th anniversary of the game with so many fantastic events throughout 2023.”

Sarah Hunter MBE

2014 Rugby World Cup winner Sarah Hunter is   a stalwart of English Rugby. Recognised for her services to Rugby with a MBE in 2014, she has  become a leading inspirational role model for the women’s and girls’ game.


The England Captain has amassed 138 caps playing for her country, and has had the honour of leading the team on a number of occasions, most recently in the 2021 delayed Rugby World Cup that was played in New Zealand in 2022 where the Red Roses made the final against the home team.


Martin Johnson CBE

Martin Johnson made his debut for England in 1993. In the same year he was called up to the British Lions tour to New Zealand.  A Tigers player since 1989, he captained England to victory in the 2003 Rugby World cup and is regarded as one of the greatest locks and England players ever to have played. Johnson won 84 caps for England during his rugby career


Johnson remembers the days when the England Captain had to call the Rugby School XV Captain to ask permission to play in white!

Huw Jones

Huw Jones is a Scottish international rugby union player. In May 2016, Jones was called up to the Scotland squad and made his Test debut during their 2016 summer tour of Japan.

Jones has played 31 times for Scotland, scoring 12 tries in the process.

On the 200th anniversary Jones says It is a real honour to be a patron for the 200th anniversary of the day William Webb Ellis picked up the ball and ran with it; creating the beautiful game we know and love today. I feel privileged to have my name alongside some legends of our game, who have achieved great things and are an inspiration to me in my career.”

Jason Leonard OBE

Jason Leonard was England’s most capped men’s rugby player who achieved a world record breaking 114 caps for England during his 14-year international career.


His amazing accolades include winning The Rugby World Cup in 2003 and 4 Grand Slams for England. Jason has played in 4 Rugby World Cups and been on 3 British & Irish Lions Tours. At club level, he made 290 appearances for his club Harlequins, spanning the amateur and professional game.


He earned an MBE for services to sport in 2002, which became an OBE after England’s Rugby World Cup success. He was inducted to the World Rugby Hall of Fame in 2014.

Jason has remained highly involved in rugby since he retired from the game in 2004; he was President of the RFU from 2015-2016, acting as the figurehead for England when they hosted the 2015 Rugby World Cup. He was previously a board member for the Six Nations and the Chairman of the British & Irish Lions.

Jason has also raised over £4million for charity through his annual charity dinner and is Founder and Chairman of The Atlas Foundation.


On the 200th anniversary Leonard says “I am delighted to be supporting the 200th anniversary of rugby football. I visited Rugby School, the birthplace of the game, in 2017 for their 450th anniversary; how wonderful that so many teams are going to be able to play on the hallowed pitch, The Close, in 2023”

Vicky Macqueen

Vicky Macqueen is currently Head of Women’s Rugby for Leicester Tigers. Macqueen played for England Students, England 7’s, England 15s, earning 34 full England caps.

In 2015 Macqueen founded didi Rugby UK which encourages young children between the ages of 18 months and 6 years to develop a love of being active whilst teaching them new skills that will improve their co-ordination, speed and balance. There are currently 24 UK franchises and three international in Australia, Italy & New Zealand. Macqueen received her British Empire Medal (BEM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List during the Diamond Jubilee year for services to Sport: developing women’s engagement in sport and engaging young children in sport.

On the 200th anniversary Macqueen says “The 200th anniversary celebrations of rugby football are the perfect opportunity to highlight how far the women’s game has come and what a wonderful community sport rugby is. I look forward to supporting the celebrations and being part of the events that Rugby School are hosting as birthplace of the game”.

Nigel Owens MBE

Nigel Owens started refereeing in 1987, after his sports teacher John Beynon suggested he take up refereeing after a school game. His first game was an under-15s match between Carmarthen and Pembrokeshire at the age of 16. In 2001 Owens was one of the first three Welsh Rugby Union professional referees. Owns was a regular referee on the International Rugby Board World Sevens series between 2002 and 2005 and in 2007 Owens referred his first Rugby World Cup match between Argentina and Georgia. By 2015 when England hosted the RWC, Owens was on the 12-man referee panel for the tournament and referred the final between New Zealand and Australia.


Known for his frank but fair style of refereeing, Owens has become a personality within the sport and perhaps the most famous referee. In 2015 Owens was named “Gay Sports Personality of the Decade” and is now an active advocate for gay rights.


On the 200th anniversary Owens says “The game of rugby football has come a long way in the last 200 years. From a game that was played by elite men and in a time when being gay was illegal, it is now an inclusive sport that promotes community and diversity.”

Will Rowlands

Will attended Rugby School (SH) from 2005 to 2010, before taking a place to read Economics and Management at Oxford University in 2011 where he won two blues (2012, 2013). Post graduating in 2014, Will immediately signed to join Wasps, playing 113 times for the club over a 7 year period and being named Player’s Player of the Season for 2018/19. Will made his debut for Wales in the 2020 Six Nations Championship and has gone on to play 23 times for his country. In order to continue his international career, ahead of the 2021/22 season Will moved to play with Dragons RFC in Newport, a season in which Will was voted the Welsh Writers’ Wales Player of the Year.

“Rugby and Rugby School have provided me with opportunities and memories over the last 18 years that I am incredible thankful and proud of. They both hold a very dear place in my heart. Personally, the 200th anniversary of the game is the perfect chance to celebrate, recognising the elevating and transformative power of rugby as a sport and Rugby School’s integral part in it’s creation.” 

Emily Scarratt MBE

Emily Scarratt is a current member of England Women’s rugby union team the Red Roses. She is well known for scoring 12 tries in her first 12 games in 2008 and in 2009 she helped England to victory in the 2009 Women’s Six Nations, and has since gone on to win 8 more Six Nations titles. In 2014 she helped England Women to win the RWC in the final against Canada and was also Team GB captain at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Most recently Emily was a member of the England team that reached the World Cup finals in New Zealand. A former teacher, Emily now dedicates all of her time to being a full-time professional rugby player.

On the 200th anniversary Emily says “The game of rugby football has been such a major influence in my life; I am therefore delighted to be a Patron, representing how women have become fully involved in the game since it began 200 years ago. It is wonderful to see that women’s matches, of all ages, will feature so much during the celebrations.”

Fiona Stockley

Fiona Stockley has nearly 30 years experience in rugby as a player and administrator. Starting her playing career at London Welsh in 1994, she went onto play for Newbury and Harlequins before joining Wasps FC in 2000. She has also played for the England Select, England A and England Academy.

She was the driving force of a major and historical moment in Barbarians history: the creation of the Barbarians Women’s side, presiding over the inaugural match at Thomond Park in 2017 and every fixture since. She has most recently become the first female Committee member Barbarian F.C. joining President John Spencer, Secretary Chris Maidment, Treasurer Bill Brown and fellow Committee members Mike Burton, Gareth Davies, Shane Jennings, Rory Lawson, Rory Best and François Louw.

Mike Tindall MBE

Mike Tindall played outside centre for Bath and Gloucester; he won 75 caps for England between 2000 and 2011 and was part of the 2003 World Cup winning team. He was also part of the England team that won the 2003 Six Nations Championship. In 2021 Tindall was selected for the Barbarians. Tindall announced his retirement from professional rugby in 2014. Since retiring tindall has gone back to grassroots rugby and is playing and coaching with amateur club Minchinhampton RFC.  Tindall is now actively involved in a number of charities including Cure Parkinson’s and the Matt Hampson Foundation.


On the 200th anniversary Tindall says “I am delighted to be a Patron for the 200th anniversary of rugby football. It is wonderful that the year is supporting so many charities that are close to my heart and shows what an inclusive, caring and community sport this great game is”.


Photo Taken by David Hartley

Where Next?