Supporter hits the jackpot at Wembley
November 17, 2009
The money shot: Stuart Tinner celebrates winning £250,000 in a kick-to-win competition © Getty Images
Saracens were not the only ones celebrating at Wembley Stadium following their 24-23 victory over South Africa after fan Stuart Tinner claimed a £250,000 jackpot in a half-time kicking contest.
The 24-year-old Job Centre worker, who plays hooker for the Welwyn RFC fifth team and currently lives at home with his parents, struck the cross-bar with a punt from 30 metres - in his socks. Tinner was the first of three supporters picked at random from the 46,281 crowd after applying to take part in the competition by text message.
After a few celebratory drinks tonight with the victorious Saracens players, Tinner now plans to buy a flat and a new car. "This is the second best day of my life - the best day was when I lost my virginity," he said. "I support Saracens but I don't get to see them very frequently but you can put me down as a season-ticket holder now. I have already spoken to my parents and they told me to keep my feet on the ground. They saw it on television."
Saracens, who are staging four matches at Wembley this season in a bid to increase their supporter base, took out insurance to cover the competition prize. "What we try and do at Wembley is to provide a great game of rugby and extra - and with a guy winning quarter of a million at half-time, we had something a lot of people will remember," said chief executive Ed Griffiths.
Sarries coach Brendan Venter admitted "it doesn't get much better for the club than this" after watching his side stun the world champions on a memorable night for the Premiership leaders.
"We said from day one, we believe life is all about creating memories. When you win the cup they take it back next year but no-one can take away the memories," said director of rugby Venter. "There were no league points on offer but we will remember this night for a long time to come.
"I know how courageous they had to be to fight back from 18-3 down. It was just a great performance from the team. "This was a brilliant night for the club, with the guy hitting the cross-bar, with a crowd of over 46,000 and us winning in the end - it doesn't get much better for the club than this. When we went into half-time Mark [McCall, assistant coach] said 'We are 18-6 down and we have just lost £250,000' but we had a great second half!"
Springboks assistant coach Dick Muir rued his side's third straight tour loss that follows defeats to Leicester and France. "A lot of the stuff we did in the first half we didn't do in the second and a few decisions went against us. We put a lot of pressure on in the first half and did the opposite in the second. We have brought a whole lot of youngsters over here on tour. Some have shown they are world class players, others have not."
Reflecting on his side's historic victory, Saracens lock Hugh Vyvyan said, "This victory is massively up there with previous great Saracens performances. To beat South Africa at Wembley is just fantastic. Its great for some of us here because we don't often get the chance to play the great players like these."