THE HALLOWED turf of Twickenham was trodden by youngsters from the birthplace of the game ahead of England’s first home fixture in this year’s Six Nations on Saturday (February 10).
Students from Harris Church of England Academy and Bilton School were invited to the England v Wales fixture, where they played on the pitch prior to kick off, and acted as guard of honour for both teams when the players ran out of the tunnel.
Harris selected 14 students for their commitment to extra-curricular rugby clubs and fixtures both in and outside of the school.
They were joined by members of Bilton’s Year 7 and 8 rugby teams in two games of tag rugby, played while the teams warmed up.
Excited pupils bought mementos at the England Rugby store before getting a glimpse behind the scenes at the famous stadium.
They got changed into their school kits in a dressing room not far from where the professionals were getting their final instructions, before walking out through the players’ tunnel and onto the pitch.
The schools then played against each other in two mini seven-a-side touch rugby games.
Students from both schools were interviewed on the big screen by in-house TV station Twickenham TV about their involvement in rugby.
As they walked back off the pitch, they were able to witness up-close Owen Farrell and George Ford practising their kicking routines as the England team came out for their warm-ups.
After welcoming the players onto the pitch as the official guard of honour and singing the anthems, they enjoyed an intense and fast-paced game which – with a little help from a controversial refereeing decision – England narrowly won 12-6.
Caroline Bradburn of Bilton School said: “This was a fantastic opportunity and greatly enjoyed by all.
“The Rugby Football Union has been involved with rugby at Bilton for both boys and girls teams and this experience was one that students will remember forever.”
Harris students were equally full of praise. Annabelle B said: “It was very exciting. The atmosphere in the stadium was amazing,” while Kaysie P described it as a “once in a lifetime experience”.
Harriet C added: “It was really exciting and it was a great experience to see the players coming out and hear the national anthem being sung.”