A RUGBY mum and teacher will be spending her Christmas with film star Russell Crowe.
Julie Burgess, 51, of Liversedge, became friends with Crowe when her son Sam, 23, signed for the actor’s rugby team, the South Sydney Rabbitohs, in 2009.
Since then, Crowe has signed his three brothers, Luke, George and Tom, taking them all to Sydney.
Widowed Ms Burgess, an assistant headteacher at a Leeds school, will join her sons and Crowe at the movie star’s farm in the coastal city of Coffs Harbour, near Sydney.
Crowe, who starred in hit movies including Gladiator and A Beautiful Mind, had recently split from his wife Danielle Spencer, also from Yorkshire.
Ms Burgess, a former rugby player who grew up in Dewsbury, said: “Russell is always very, very hospitable and looks after the boys. He loves being part of our family, he likes to look after us.”
Julie, who speaks several languages, had been jetting out to Australia to watch her sons play and in 2010 had been spotted laughing with Crowe at a game.
Last week, Julie appeared on an Australian TV show where she spoke about moving to Australia permanently to be with her children.
And earlier this year, Julie retweeted a message Crowe had put on Twitter talking about his excitement at signing the Burgess brothers.
He wrote: “Nice one! RT @russellcrowe: Just saw the Burgess boys, looking super fit. Season can’t start too soon. Come on the Bunnies!!! @samburgess8.”
A source close to Crowe said: “Russell and Julie’s sons are really close, they have moved all the way from Yorkshire to Sydney at very young ages so he has really looked after them all.
“They are the stars of his team and he has close friendships with them, so naturally Julie has got to know him well too. The boys have to remain in Australia over Christmas so Julie will be flying over to join them at Russell’s farm.
“They get on extremely well. She is very appreciative of the support Russell gives the boys but likes to go over as often as she can to support them herself.
“Russell also meets up with Julie when he is working in the UK and over the years they have become close.”
Crowe’s love of rugby league is well documented and the actor became close friends with two Huddersfield Giants players.
He met Keith Mason and Scott Moore at Stringfellow’s in London on the night of the Giants’ Challenge Cup final defeat to Warrington Wolves in August 2009.