Harlequins arranged for England prop Joe Marler to travel to last Saturday's Premiership semi-final by helicopter after the birth of his fourth child … and Tonbridge School played its part in the story too.
The club wanted to make sure the 30-year-old rugby star could spend as much time with his wife and children following the birth on Thursday (17 June).
The rest of the squad travelled to Bristol on the Friday night, but plans were made for a helicopter to land on the School’s lower fields, near to the player’s home in Kent, and fly him to North Bristol Rugby Club on Saturday morning.
Joe (pictured above right, with the School's Director of Sport Chris Morgan) also took the helicopter home following Harlequins' win, which saw the biggest comeback in Premiership history. He landed back at the School on Saturday evening, before heading off to see his family – including the new arrival.
In the lunchtime semi-final, Harlequins beat Bristol Bears 43-36 at Ashton Gate despite trailing 28-0 in the first half. Quins, who play at The Twickenham Stoop in west London, miraculously came back in the second half to force extra time and then beat the league leaders.
In the first half, Old Tonbrigian Ben Earl (JH 11-16) scored the first try of the game for Bristol Bears.
The story of Tonbridge’s role in the ‘helicopter dash’ was covered by BBC Sport and several regional media outlets, as well as on social media. Harlequins wrote: "Super Dad @JoeMarler wasn't going to miss the birth of his baby girl. Still made the game in style though. A special thanks to our friends at @tonbridgeuk and @NBRFC. #HappyFathersDay #COYQ"
Quins now travel to Twickenham on Saturday to contest the final with Exeter Chiefs.
Joe is pictured arriving back at the School on Saturday after the game, where he was met by Chris Morgan and presented with some Tonbridge goodies.