Premiership club Saracens sent 33 first-team stars, including England internationals, to the North Yorkshire market town to hold a coaching session and open a 3G pitch named in memory of former deputy headteacher Dave Clark.
Mr Clark, who had taught PE at Richmond School since 1997, was killed in a horror cattle trampling accident while walking his dogs in September 2020. The former Scotland Under 21 player was passionate about the sport and his son Calum went on to play professionally for Saracens before announcing his retirement this summer.
Calum, who has since taken on a pastoral role at the north London club, helped to arrange for his team-mates to travel to Richmond during a pre-season tour of the north to meet staff and pupils who had known Mr Clark.
The session for 35 children from local schools and Richmondshire Rugby Club at the new Dave Clark Arena was led by the entire Saracens squad, among them seven England players including Billy Vunipola, Ben Earl, Alex Goode, Max Malins and Alex Lozowski. Eighteen internationals capped by other nations also took part.
Headteacher Jenna Potter said: “We are thrilled to host the Saracens and can’t thank the players enough for giving students from the area such an incredible opportunity. A former PE teacher, Dave loved all sport, but rugby was his passion and he would have been overjoyed to know that Calum and his teammates had played at Richmond School and given so much encouragement to so many young people. I cannot think of a more fitting tribute to him."
Calum Clark also met sixth form students and gave advice about careers in sport to them. He said: "It is wonderful to be able to honour my dad in a place that was so close to his heart for so many years. It is also great to hear about the importance and value that Richmond School and Sixth Form College places on sport across all year groups, encouraging students to become active. More than ever, keeping fit and enjoying sport has proven to be incredibly valuable and has demonstrated how much it can improve our mental and emotional health, whether playing for fun or at a professional level."
The Dave Clark Arena will also be for community use and football clubs Richmond Town, Catterick Village Juniors and Richmond Mavericks all play on it.
Funding for the facility came from various sources including the Football Foundation, Arete Learning Trust, trustees of the school, Sport England, Richmond Town FC and Richmondshire Council.
Saracens rugby manager Warrick Lang added: "We have heard so much about Dave and can fully understand why he was known to so many as the 'Great Man'. It has been an enormous honour for us to pay our respects to Dave and to support Calum and his family. We have been so impressed with the Dave Clark Arena, it is a fantastic facility to foster the benefits of sport and promote fitness and teamwork and an amazing legacy to Dave."
Mr Clark, who was 59 when he died, is survived by his wife Jane and Calum's sisters Helen and Hannah. An inquest into his death held in July returned a conclusion of accident.