Dean Ryan among first to confirm for ‘Tankie’s Battle’

Monday 04 April 2016 Written by: Adam

Paul, or ‘Tank’ as he is known, was an instrumental part of the Falcons side which claimed the 1997-8 Premiership crown, the combative prop now facing his biggest fight following a diagnosis of inoperable cancer.

Former team-mates have rallied round with messages of support, and that wave of backing has now translated into a fundraising match which will see the Legends XV taking on a North East Select.

Ryan, now director of rugby at Aviva Premiership club Worcester Warriors, is among the first batch of players to confirm for the fixture, former Newcastle and Scotland second-row Stuart Grimes also putting his hand up for selection.

Garath Archer, the former England lock and title-winning team-mate of Van-Zandvliet’s, will be in the mix for the 7.45pm kick-off, as will Steve O’Neill. The hard-hitting flanker was among the many unsung heroes of the Falcons’ Premiership success, fellow local hero Micky Ward also lending his weight to the cause.

The collective mischief of the confirmed forwards could mean a busy night for the officials, but luckily there will be vast international experience in that department as well with John Pearson, Dave Pearson and Iain Ramage all on hand to adjudicate.

As well as raising money for a trust fund set up for Van-Zandvliet’s daughter, Hope Elle, Tankie’s Battle will also help both the RVI and Freeman hospitals, plus the Rugby Players’ Association’s official charity, Restart Rugby.

Tickets for the game are priced £10 and £20 for adults, £5 for under-16s and £50 for hospitality packages. To book [**CLICK HERE**][1] or call 0871 226 6060.