- Over 12000 supporters at Twickenham for open training
- Didcot RFC form Guard of Honour for the England team
Prince Harry joined over 12000 supporters from clubs and schools to watch the England senior squad take part in an open-training session at Twickenham Stadium on Friday.
In his new role as Patron of the Rugby Football Union (RFU) Prince Harry met young people involved in charities connected to England Rugby's Try for Change programme as well as representatives from RFU’s National Youth Council and Young Rugby Ambassadors (YRA)..
His Royal Highness also met Old Mutual Wealth Kids First Champions from Didcot RFC who were chosen from groups around the country to form a Guard of Honour for the England team.
Supporters from grassroots clubs and schools from all over England, alongside local residents attended the session to watch the England as they prepare for their next RBS 6 Nations game against Italy.
England have won their opening two matches of the RBS 6 Nations, having beaten France and Wales so far in the 2017 tournament.
They next face Italy at Twickenham Stadium on 26 February and Hill says they are determined to improve for the third match of the competition.
“We’ve had a great week’s training in preparation for Italy next weekend and it’s fantastic to end the week here at Twickenham in front of so many fans,” said England team manager Richard Hill.
“These players are determined to improve, we are wary of complacency and have to keep up the intensity in training.
“This week has been important, they had a tough session on Tuesday and today.
Hill added: “In between those sessions they’ve been able to pop out and have a coffee and also been bowling which is important for team bonding. They had some fun, Maro Itoje was LVP – least valuable player - which is something he’s not used to.
“There was a lot of camaraderie among the players, this week there has also been quiet time and coffee time which has helped bring the squad closer to together.”
Fans were guided through the rugby session while the players also met with Prince Harry on the pitch following the conclusion of their session.
As well as 40 school and college groups, 30 players (Under 11/U12s) and five coaches attended from Didcot RFC.
Old Mutual Wealth Kids First Champions Didcot RFC were nominated by their local RFU delivery team, as the coaches, volunteers and committee members have worked tirelessly over the last six years to set up and grow a mini’s section, which now has over 130 players aged 5-13 registered.
They have also created a supportive and developmental environment which has encouraged the older players to retain their interest in rugby, when often there is a big drop off at 12-13.
"It was so exciting to meet Prince Harry and also being part of the guard of honour to cheer the England players as they ran out to training," said 11-year-old Harry Levell.
"I love playing rugby and it was so cool to come to Twickenham today with my friends from my rugby club Didcot RFC."
Also in attendance were young people who have become involved in rugby via Street Games, The Dallaglio Foundation and The School of Hard Knocks.
The event at Twickenham raised over £12,500 for the Try for Change fund, run by Comic Relief and England Rugby, which will support projects and programmes that use rugby and the rugby community to improve the lives of disadvantaged people in England and across the world.
For more information on Try for Change visit www.englandrugby.com/tryforchange