man talking to audience
22 September 2015

My experience of… ‘Rugby’s Biggest Year – The Gala Dinner’

The last few weeks the excitement of RWC has really come to light with great TV ads featuring England rugby giants, #WearTheRose campaigns with the wonderful Laura Wright performing on top of the O2, social media buzz and fantastic events in the lead up. I was lucky enough to attend one of these events… Rugby’s Biggest Year – The Gala Dinner.

Being a part of the Paragon Marketing team my role at events is social media; sharing behind-the-scenes pictures, celeb snaps and obligatory arty food shots as well as providing quotes on Twitter from Q&As etc. This year, however I was invited to sit at a table with the Head of Marketing and our media attendees and what an amazing experience that was.

We arrived early at the Hilton, Park Lane to take pictures and set up Live Wall (a live social media sharing platform) ahead of the evening’s celebrations. After refreshing and dressing in our black tie attire, we made our way to the VIP champagne reception in the Harvest and Wellington Suite, but there was also two other receptions in the Ballroom Foyer and Crystal Palace Suite. We accepted a glass of chilled champagne and located our guests, whilst keeping our eyes peeled for celebrities. Our first spot was one of the 2003 legends, Lawrence Dallaglio. It’s always more exciting than you expect to be in their presence and after years of watching them on TV in countless rugby games you end up feeling like you know them and it’s always a surprise to see how big they are in the flesh, but would you expect anything less from a rugby player?

After schmoozing with our guests we made our way to the Ballroom to be seated for dinner. The room looked beautiful, the tables were dressed magnificently and the enormous chandeliers hanging from the ceiling added elegance to the room. As we made our way to the table there was a real buzz in the room, with it only been three days until the start of World Cup and the presence of legends this was no surprise. We felt a part of the magic.

We were welcomed by ex England rugby player and renowned host, Martin Bayfield as he shared stories and hilarious jokes before welcoming soprano, Natasha Marsh who left the room speechless as she performed Jerusalem and this was before the food arrived.


On the menu for the evening was;

  • Sesame salmon with compressed cucumber, apple and celery
  • Beef fillet with dauphinoise potato, asparagus and savoy cabbage with honey bourbon sauce
  • Apple and pear crumble with toffee anglaise

WOW! It was amazing, my personal favourite was the dessert (I have a sweet tooth)!

During the evening we were treated to a 2003 legends Q&A panel with Lawence Dallaglio, Lewis Moody, Jason Leonard and Matt Dawson. They shared their advice and tips to those in the current England squad as well as their predictions for who would win their groups, but they definitely didn’t predict Japan’s victory over South Africa. However as Jason Leonard said on the night, “You don’t have to be the best in the world for four years, just the best in those four weeks”.

RWC Dinner

And don’t think the rugby greats stopped with these guys, others also in attendance included: Neil Back, Andy Goode, Simon Shaw, Iain Balshaw, Joe Worsley, Paul Grayson, George Chuter, Tim Payne, James Simpson-Daniel, Tom May and Shane Geraghty.

The evening continued as we were then introduced to everyone’s favourite and the Pub Landlord, Al Murray who proceeded to impress us all with his fantastic impressions of various different Scottish, Irish and Welsh accents as well as teasing guests in the room according to their job title and industry. I’ve been lucky enough to see Al Murray perform on few occasions and he seems to get better every time. Well worth seeing him live.

After sitting down and enjoying the Q&As, taking part in the raffle and grand auctions and laughing at Al Murray’s jokes we were all ready to hit the dance floor to great classics from Indie Killers. They played everyone’s all-time-favourites as well as some chart songs and some golden oldies.


An amazing night had by all, but once I eventually got home I was ready to kick off my heels and grab a few winks before heading back to work the next day.


Interested in getting involved and attending Paragon’s next dinner but this time in aid of BBC Children in Need? Why not take a look at ‘An Evening with the Stars’ on Thursday 15th October at Battersea Evolution… CLICK HERE

Want to see if you were papped on the night by our photographer, like us on Facebook and take a look at the album.

Or if rugby is your sport of choice and you’re loving the World Cup, why not get booked in for the RBS 6 Nations and attend our Lewis Moody VIP Club CLICK HERE

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram to get all the latest on our events, as well as live feeds on the night.

Interested in taking a look at our Event Management services? CLICK HERE

Written By Tom