- England players help out with South African Rugby Union community projects
- It's great to see the kids' smiles – Geoff Parling
“This is how I started playing rugby, in bare feet, so the stars of the future might be here,” said England hooker Dylan Hartley after a community coaching clinic at Kimberley’s GWK Stadium.
While touring South Africa this June, England have committed to four grassroots coaching events around the country, with the players teaching local, under-privileged kids the basics of Tag Rugby in association with the South African Rugby Union.
One morning session with 13 schools took place before the non-cap match against South Africa Southern Barbarians and although it was only planned for six players, virtually the entire Test squad volunteered to take part.
And the importance of the day was not lost on Northampton Saints man Hartley: “In a country like South Africa you think everybody plays rugby, but I’ve just been told these guys haven’t played or even seen rugby before.
“So we’re teaching them the basics today: catching, passing and ripping off tags. Coley said as soon as he heard the word passing he wasn’t up for it but, really, it’s just good fun to be here.
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“This is what rugby is all about, between the grassroots and the elite game there’s not the much of a gap so it’s nice to be able to come back and do this kind of thing.”
Chris Ashton, Owen Farrell, Alex Corbisiero, Lee Mears, Ben Morgan, Mouritz Botha, Jonathan Joseph, Chris Robshaw, Tom Johnson and Dan Cole were among the players to take part, and Geoff Parling said it was the children’s outlook which made the day special.
“We’re just trying to have a bit of fun: relay races, running round grabbing people’s tags and something called a chicken-relay,” said the Leicester Tigers lock.
“It was just tag but already they’ve started to tackle each other – they were just mad keen.
“The level we play on Saturday’s, sometimes you think the fun goes out of it a little bit, but this reminds you it’s great for the kids have a run around and see their smiles.”