Saracens Mouritz Botha and Charlie Hodgson enjoy the scramble during a training session with pupils at CedarBridge Academy. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
Saracens Mouritz Botha and Charlie Hodgson enjoy the scramble during a training session with pupils at CedarBridge Academy. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
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After a bitterly-disappointing end to their season, which saw them lose at the semi-finals stage of the Heineken Cup and the Premiership play-offs, a 35-strong playing party from the English club have been unwinding in Bermuda ahead of their charity match at the National Sports Centre.

Some of the squad yesterday conducted coaching sessions at CedarBridge Academy and T N Tatem, while today the schedule includes a game of rugby at Elbow Beach, from 3pm.

It’s all part of their week-long tour to raise money for the Beyond Rugby and Family Centre charities.

The showpiece event is the game on Friday, featuring a Bermuda team managed by former England captain Lewis Moody and containing Irish legend Geordan Murphy.

That outfit will also consist of a number of Bermuda internationals eager to make the most of taking on the likes of Charlie Hodgson, Mouritz Botha and Andrew Saull.

For former England international Hodgson, it’s a chance to pass on rugby tips to the local players and put on a show for the crowd.

He told the Bermuda Sun: “It’s about interacting with the community and it’s an opportunity to promote rugby. It’s a great thing to do and it’s great to do it in a different part of the world.

“Spreading rugby around the world is massive. It’s such a good sport to be involved in no matter what level you play — it’s also such a family-orientated sport and Saracens is a family-orientated club.”

He added: “It’s always tricky with these kind of invitational games.

“It’s the end of the season but as soon as the game starts you get focused and the niceties go out of the window, especially when you know a few of the guys and you get reacquainted with them.

“The club did something similar last year  in Hong Kong. All during the week there was a little bit of banter going around but when the game started it was suddenly taken very seriously!”

Injured back row player Jacques Burger took part in a coaching session with pupils at CedarBridge Academy yesterday, and while he won’t be lining up on Friday after recent knee surgery, the Namibian star of the 2011 World Cup, can’t wait for the action to start.

He told the Sun: “The outcome is not really important. It’s basically a chance for some of the Bermuda guys to get involved with the professional guys, they can pick up a couple of tips.

“Within five or 10 years they are going to be coaches and hopefully they can pass on things to the kids.

“So with the professional guys out here mixing with the Bermudian guys, hopefully we’ll see a couple of tries and people can come out and enjoy it because that’s a big part of the game, sitting on the side, having a drink and watching the game.

“It’ll be a great atmosphere and I think once people adopt that vibe the game will just speak for itself.”

While the tour is a welcome break after a long campaign — the team finished top of the league in regular season — Hodgson admits the Premiership semi-final defeat to Northampton is still raw.

He said: “To be honest when the  game finished we went home and the players hadn’t been together since until now – but it’s certainly raw still when you talk to people.”