The Slovenian national rugby squad are heading for Lancashire to honour a rugby legend they never knew.
Jonathan Skofic, born in England of Slovenian descent, died in 2011 without seeing his five sons create a world record by playing for his ancestral nation on the international stage.
Now Slovenia are sending a side to compete in the annual Jonathan Skofic Sevens Tournament at Tarleton RUFC on June 6 in memory of the club’s co-founder and former chairman.
And the Skofic boys, who became the first five brothers in rugby history to take the field together in a competitive game, could face their international team-mates at the popular event which is now in its fourth year.
“We are delighted to be hosting the Slovenia sevens national squad who have entered a team in this summer’s event,” said eldest brother Jack.
“All five of us are very proud to have been capped in both XV and sevens formats for Slovenia and we now look forward to going up against them as we continue the tradition of entering a family-based Skofic team in the tournament.”
Dad Jonathan captained Bath University rugby side and later played at Preston Grasshoppers.
He helped create Tarleton Rugby Club 25 years ago and was still turning out occasionally for the second team just weeks before his untimely death.
His dream had always been to see his five sons play in the same side together – and even join them on the pitch.
But he passed away less than two years before they achieved that feat and then went on to be capped by Slovenia.
The sevens tournament was launched in Jonathan’s memory in 2012 and this year it will include a women’s competition as well as men’s elite and open sections.
“It’s a testament to everyone involved, from volunteers, to players, to those who come down and support the event, that we are able to continue to deliver a competition which encompasses many of the principals of my dad and Tarleton Rugby Club,” said Jack Skofic.
“The enjoyment of everyone involved is a great testament to the memory of him and all he was passionate about.”
The carnival event will also include a beer festival, featuring ales from around the country including Preston’s Hart Brewery, which have given the tournament naming rights for one of their cask beers.
There will also be live music in the evening featuring local band The Jackpot Golden Boys who have just returned from a US tour.