Benefit rugby match to help support ex-Falcons star Tank

Paul Van-Zandvliet
Paul Van-Zandvliet

A special benefit game and music night is taking place in aid of a rugby hero and former Alnwick landlord who was recently diagnosed with inoperable cancer.

Ex-Newcastle Falcons star Paul Van-Zandvliet is currently battling the disease and, in typically uncompromising fashion, he has vowed to raise money for charity as well as providing for his family, particularly his young daughter Hope Elle.

Paul Van-Zandvliet during his Newcastle Falcons days.

Paul Van-Zandvliet during his Newcastle Falcons days.

The 49-year-old, who used to run the Falcons Rest in Alnwick, was nicknamed Tank in his playing days, and the benefit event will take place on Friday, April 22, at the Falcons’ Kingston Park ground.

The benefit game – Tankie’s Battle – has been put together by former Newcastle players Richard Metcalfe, Stuart Grimes and Gareth Archer who, along with a number of Tankie’s friends and rugby colleagues, have set up an organising committee for the event.

The match, which kicks off at 7.45pm, will see a Falcons Legends team take on a North East Clubs Select team with all monies raised on the night going towards the Hope Elle Van-Zandvliet Benefit Fund.

Afterwards, there will be musical entertainment in the West Wing from Marshy, Pete Lincoln and The Tuckers.

Tickets cost £10/£20 for adults and £5 for U16s and are available from the stadium ticket office on 0871 2266060 or via

A bus has been organised to leave Alnwick Bus Station at 6.30pm. The cost is £20, which includes return journey and event ticket. To book your seat, email Simon Jobson on

Paul joined the Falcons in 1992 and was part of the team that won promotion from the Second Division in 1997 and won the Premiership in 1998.

Tank retired from professional rugby in the summer of 1998, but remained a popular figure on the local club scene.

He took over the Blue Bell in Alnwick, renaming it the Falcons Rest. Paul made many friends in Alnwick and is looking forward to seeing everyone again at the benefit game.

As well as attending on the evening, people can also support via auctions, raffles, sponsorship and a JustGiving donation page. All money raised will go towards supporting Hope Elle and The Rugby Players’ Association’s official charity Restart Rugby, plus the RVI and Freeman hospitals.