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Leonard scrums aboard HMS Illustrious

09 December 2005

World Cup winner Jason Leonard will be taking rugby onto the flight deck of aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious next week to help convert children to the sport.

England's most capped international player will be joined by 30 boys and girls from Court Lane Junior School and St Jude's C of E Primary School in Portsmouth on Tuesday, December 13.

The year five and six pupils will take part in coaching sessions and games with Leonard and a team of RFU instructors in the hangar and on the flight deck of the Royal Navy's Fleet Flagship.

Their time aboard HMS Illustrious is part of a series of events in the SEE U @ RUG B programme, a joint initiative between Royal & SunAlliance and the Rugby Football Union to take the game to new communities.

Leonard said: "I'm delighted to give my support to Royal & SunAlliance's SEE U @ RUG B programme and the work that they have been doing in encouraging young rugby talent throughout the country. It is hugely fulfilling to be involved in sessions like this."

The commanding officer of HMS Illustrious, Captain Bob Cooling, said: "As a top class employer of active young people the Royal Navy is delighted to be part of this worthy venture. Everyone in HMS Illustrious is pleased to host the event and are looking forward to meeting Jason Leonard as one of the finest players of our time."

Annette Spencer, UK Head of External Communications at Royal & SunAlliance, said: "The SEE U @ RUG B programme is a very exciting initiative for us. Introducing a new generation to the sport teaches them skills and discipline to equip them for tackling risk in their later life.

"As insurers our business is preparing people for risk, and we hope this event will continue the success of the programme so far and encourage more children to take up rugby regularly."

Royal & SunAlliance also supports the National Youth Rugby Festival at Rugby School in May which includes teams from the SEE U @ RUG B development programme as well as sides from the RFU's 32 Constituent Bodies.

The sessions build on the work of the RFU's team of Rugby Development Officers and Community Rugby Coaches throughout the country.

Rugby has been introduced to the Court Lane and St Jude's Schools by Portsmouth and Havant Community Rugby Coach Nick Parker, who will be working with Leonard on board HMS Illustrious.

December 9