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Chris and his rugby exiles go for TV gold


The Exiles record a segment for Let's Get Gold at the Titanic museum, Belfast.

The Exiles record a segment for Let's Get Gold at the Titanic museum, Belfast.

MOIRA rugby player Chris Henderson will be going for gold tomorrow night (Saturday) on a national television show, as he and his team mates from a rugby sevens squad aim to be voted as the best team in the UK on the ITV1 show 'Let's Get Gold'.

The brainchild of the makers of X Factor and Take Me Out, Let's Get Gold will be hosted by Vernon Kay and features a celebrity judging panel of Freddie Flintoff, Una Healy, Martine McCutcheon and Rio Ferdinand.

It will air on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night with 15 sporting teams from across the UK competing to transform their sport into the most spectacular and entertaining routine.

Teams will be putting their skills to the test by performing breathtaking activities to demonstrate their sporting prowess. With a £100,000 prize fund, which the Exiles plan to donate to the charity Wooden Spoon should they win, the show will seek to identify amateur and professional groups displaying the best technique, skill and athleticism, but also those with creativity, style and flair.

Chris, 25, and his Ulster Exiles Sevens rugby team were selected to be on after the show's researchers discovered they had been finalists the past three years at the Guinness International Sevens in Carrick, winning it on the past two occasions.

Chris has been involved with the side, which is made up from players who have played rugby outside Northern Ireland, for five years.

Chris Henderson in action for Instonians.

Chris Henderson in action for Instonians.

Chris's father Mark Henderson, the Exiles coach, said: "Researchers phoned the organisers of the Carrick Sevens asking about us. The guy from Carrick phoned me and he thought it was a wind up, as did I at first. It took a few days to realise it was real."

The team, which also includes Ballynahinch man Mike Kirkwood, have 90 seconds on the show to display their sport.

The Exiles have spent much time filming for the short segment prior to their performance on Saturday night, and local people will recognise several of the locations used, with the gym at Friends' School, where Chris will teach and coach rugby next year, and the Tannery, Moira, as well as Titanic Belfast and the Belfast Harlequins rugby ground, the club Chris has recently signed to play for next season.

Mark said: "There were 14 hours of recording over here including three hours of choreography in Friends' gym, for what will end up just a few minutes on TV

"The performance on the show was 90 seconds and the vote was taken in the studio at the time, although obviously we don't want to spoil the outcome. We did, however, bring the humour of rugby into it, rugby is a very fun sport.

It was a massive, massive experience," said Mark. "Eleven of us spent four days in London, all expenses paid, it was a good weekend.

"Our routine was choreographed by the people who choreographed the Royal Jubilee Concert at the Palace, Paul Domain and Natalie Smith Wright, whose husband plays rugby league for Great Britain, so she understood the rugby aspect of it. I was amazed how they put it together."

Speaking about the Exiles, Researcher Dan Booker said: "We had heard of the Exiles and flew over to Belfast to record a training session prior to Carrick. The production team jumped at them for the show as they could see the humour and enjoyment the guys portrayed and we feel this comes out in the show." Mark added: "It was just a massive experience for the guys. We had a great time, it was just like a rugby tour."

Let's Get Gold, featuring the Ulster Exiles will air on Saturday night on ITV1 from 8.25pm to 9.55pm.

Ulster Star