- Mascots from England players' formative clubs ran out with squad at Twickenham
- RFU working to strengthen connections with grassroots rugby
Photo: Getty Images
Young rugby players from across the country had a day they will never forget last Saturday. They ran out alongside the England side for the QBE International against South Africa.
The 23 mascots, who play at Under-12 level, were selected from the England senior squad's formative clubs as part of an initiative from the RFU to strengthen connections with grassroots rugby. The youngsters epitomised the squad as their younger selves and they were all excited to be representing their club and the grassroots of the game.
Making the trip to Twickenham from as far afield as Alnwick, Wigan, Holt and Thornbury, the mascots enjoyed lunch together with their families before changing into their club kit and stepping onto the pitch to line up alongside ‘their’ player for the national anthems.
Even the weather couldn’t dampen the mascots’ excitement. Jake Herrington, who plays full-back for Cambridge RFC’s Under-12s, was mascot to England full-back Alex Goode. Speaking about his day out, Jake said: “The experience was amazing – the roar was tremendous as we came out.”
Josh Crozier from Stockton RFC said: “The best part was walking out onto the pitch with Geoff Parling, who used to play for my club. Geoff was very friendly and recognised me in the tunnel as we’d met at the training day at Pennyhill Park.”
The feeling was echoed by Finn Griffiths who plays rugby for Barkers’ Butts RFC in Coventry who said: “The day before I was ecstatic at the thought of being a mascot for Tom Wood for the England match at Twickenham and I could not get to sleep that night.”
He continued: “The actual day was amazing. When I was in the tunnel before the match, I felt really excited. I could see the thousands of people waiting outside in the crowd and that made me feel a little bit nervous. The England team then came out of the changing room and we were matched up with our player.
“We ran out onto the pitch to fireworks and flames, which was a shock but they created a brilliant atmosphere. I stood in my Barkers’ Butts kit in front of Tom, proudly representing my club and singing the National Anthem. The noise was incredible as the whole crowd sang together.
“I ran off and joined my family to watch the game. We had great seats, which were just beside the pitch and behind the England substitutes so we could see everything clearly. Unfortunately the result was not what we wanted. However, it did not spoil this incredible day.”