January 20, 2023 7.00 am This story is over 15 months old

Memorial tournament on eighth anniversary of popular Lincoln man’s death

Several teams will compete in the Mike Beard Lincolnshire Shield

A special Touch Rugby tournament will be held on the eighth anniversary of the death of popular Lincoln man who played a huge role in bringing the sport to the city.

Father-of-two Mike Beard, 31, sadly died when he was cycling to a rugby tournament and was involved in a collision with a school bus on March 25, 2015.

Mike was much loved by everyone at Lincoln Christ’s Hospital School where he taught rugby, his colleagues within the doorman community, at Lincoln Rugby Club, and by all his friends and family.

After setting up Lincoln Touch in 2012, which is part of Lincoln Rugby Club, it has continued to grow from just four members to, at times, over 50 and his legacy continues to live on.

Isle Touch Rugby, located at Thurlow Pavilion on Station Road in Epworth in North Lincolnshire, will host the 2023 edition of the Mike Beard Lincolnshire Shield from 11am on March 25, 2023, exactly eight years on from Mike’s tragic death.

Mike (front centre) with his Lincoln Touch teammates. | Photo: Lincoln Touch

This year will take on the format of a tournament of around eight teams and boost the exposure of the sport of Touch in memory of Mike. In 2022, it was played as a single match between this year’s hosts and Lincoln Touch, with the latter winning 4-3.

There is still space for more teams to enter. Teams, or individuals wishing to take part, are being invited to enter the tournament online here, by emailing [email protected] or [email protected], or by messaging the clubs’ Facebook pages here and here.

There is a voluntary cost of £10 per player and all contributions will be split evenly between cancer charity Team Verrico and a charity chosen by Mike’s family.

Mike’s children Jack and Ella will present the winning team with the shield at the end of the tournament, while his father-in-law Mark Bowen will also be in attendance.

Warren Steele and Samuel Roylance have organised this year’s Mike Beard Lincolnshire Shield tournament. | Photo: Warren Steele

Warren Steele from Isle Touch Rugby, who has organised the tournament alongside Samuel Roylance, said: “Isle Touch Rugby are looking forward to hosting the second edition of the Mike Beard Lincolnshire Shield.

“The opportunity to raise charitable funds in memory of Mike, and growing the competition to multiple teams is something we’re sure he would have loved to have seen.”

Mike wearing the original Lincoln Touch kit. | Photo: Lincoln Touch

Samuel Roylance, who took over as head of Lincoln Touch after his close friend’s tragic death, is now involved with Nottingham Hoods Touch.

He said: “Lincoln has been the stepping stone for a lot of former players who fell in love with the sport and have moved on to bigger clubs, to play for regional and international teams, and setting up new clubs in universities around the country. Mike would be proud that players from his club he set up have reached to the highest levels in the country ”

“I only knew Mike for a few years, but he was a fantastic person and was well respected in the rugby community. He had a great love of the sport of Touch and how inclusive it is for all ages and genders to be part of the team. We are still trying to carry on his vision for Touch Rugby to grow in the county and be played by more people.”

Craig Finter was a good friend of Mike’s and this is one of his favourite photos of the two of them together. | Photo: Craig Finter

Craig Finter first met Mike at the University of Lincoln’s rugby trials in 2003. He also previously played touch rugby with Mike and will captain one of the sides at the Mike Beard Lincolnshire Shield.

He said: “It’s been a number of years since Mike’s passing and he is still in our thoughts daily. Making this event along with lincoln touch a regular and long term success is a fantastic way to celebrate and honour Mike’s memory, thus I would encourage anyone who knew mike to get in touch attend the event whether in a playing or spectating capacity to share memories of a thoroughly great bloke!”

Mike was loved by so many people and always put others first. | Photo: Lincoln Touch

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