Newcastle Falcons have gained some fighting spirit ahead of this Saturday’s Championship bonanza at London Scottish, with the support of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighter Andy Ogle (kick-off 3pm).
Ogle 23, who hails from Newcastle, teamed up with UFC enthusiast Chris Pilgrim in the build up to his fight at Nottingham Arena later this month.
Scrum-half Pilgrim donned the gloves and sparred with Ogle in front of the on-looking media which included BBC Look North and Sky Sports.
“I have had a passion for mixed martial arts (MMA) for quite a while now and it started four or five years ago when I travelled over to America and trained in California,” said Pilgrim.
“The training has been quite handy for my rugby and I have learnt some good techniques that I can use in rugby,” added the 26-year-old.
The Birkenhead-born No.9 has enjoyed a good run of form of late, stretching back to the pre-season games.
Starting in the Falcons’ Championship victory at Bristol on the opening day last weekend, Pilgrim is eager to make it two wins out of two in the capital.
Pilgrim is expecting a robust challenge against a Scottish outfit that defeated Rotherham 26-20 away from home in their first game of the campaign.
Pilgrim said: “This week presents us with another good challenge and not many of the boys have been to London Scottish’s ground.
“We are not fully sure what to expect from them so it will be a good challenge and one that I am very much looking forward to.
“I have no doubt that they are going to come at us 100 per cent and it is going to be a big game for them.
“It is up to us to impose ourselves and we need to show them that we want it more.”
Wishing Ogle well for his fight on September 29, Pilgrim added: “It’s good for North East sport that he is performing on the big stage and I would definitely love to get down to Nottingham and support Andy and get behind him.
“I am sure after today a lot of people will keep an eye on him and support him – from speaking to him it is clear he is very passionate to see us get back to the Premiership.”
Ogle was delighted to join forces with Pilgrim as they both gear-up for respective challenges.
He said: “I had a fantastic time training with Chris today. There are a lot of transferrable skills between MMA and rugby and you can tell Chris knows his stuff!
“I have a huge fight at UFC in Nottingham on September 29 and I hope that he's able to make it down to watch and then I will hopefully come back to see Chris and the Falcons enjoy a championship-winning season.”