Just minutes before England kicked off against the defending Grand Slam champions on Saturday, Harry Parkinson proudly entered the famous Twickenham pitch wearing his school’s new playing kit for the national anthems.
The opportunity came as part of the All Schools programme, launched in 2012 by the Rugby Football Union, which aims to get more state secondary schools playing rugby and encourage students to join local clubs.
This season marks the eighth year of kit design workshops, with this series celebrating the RFU hitting its milestone of introducing rugby to the 750th state secondary school.
Harry was one of 70 students from across England who were picked to unveil their new shirts in front of thousands of rugby supporters on behalf of their respective schools.
And the 12-year-old admitted the whole day would live long in the memory.
“I love rugby so much because it’s a sport that requires you to show real respect to everyone on the pitch, as well as off the pitch,” said Harry. “It feels really good to have been given the chance to go to Twickenham because this was my first time watching England. The entire England squad - particularly Owen Farrell - have inspired me to get into rugby because I really love watching them.”
Each shirt was individually designed by the school children at kit design workshops last year, where pupils worked with Canterbury employees to learn about the core values of rugby, the pride associated with the shirt and the importance of colours, logos and emblems.
Participation in rugby has increased in All Schools since the inception of the programme in 2012, with over 10,500 students having gone on to join local rugby clubs.
The All Schools programme is one of the RFU’s key legacy programmes set up to increase the number of state secondary schools playing rugby union in England. Visit www.englandrugby.com/allschools to find out more.