- Eight players join Stuart Lancaster and Mike Catt at coaching clinic
- “It’s the least we can do to help make a difference” – Lancaster
If England were tired after the physical and mental exertion of a double training day – with Test selection decided afterwards – it didn’t show at a community coaching clinic with 160 enthusiastic young players in Salta.
Head Coach Stuart Lancaster and Attacking Skills Coach Mike Catt were joined by Christian Wade, Marland Yarde, Lee Dickson, Paul Doran Jones, Luther Burrell, Rob Buchanan, Stephen Myler and Jonny May at the Universitario Rugby Club.
With the Andes mountains looming in the background, the coaching session was to help raise money for the AMTENA healthcare programme run by the British Hospital for the region which provides medical assistance to indigenous communities in North East Argentina.
Photo: RFU Archive
But for Lancaster, with a wide grin giving away the tongue-in-cheek nature of his comments, it was also a chance to win a few supporters in the ahead of the first Test in the rugby mad city on Saturday.
“We were mobbed when we got here, so I’m lucky to be alive,” he said.
“It’s brilliant to be here, they’re so enthusiastic. From my point of view it’s great that there are eight players here, it’s Tuesday night, we’ve had a double day of training, but it’s the least we can do to help make a difference.
“Although not many of them speak English, I think they get the sentiment. You can see from the amount of people that are here that it’s a small thing for us but a big thing for them.
“Salta is not a big place and to get so many people here, perhaps we’ve converted a few for Saturday for when the Test match comes.”
Photo: RFU Archive
Not likely according to wing Yarde, who spent his time working on kicking and passing with the youngsters. “I’m trying to win a few fans but I’ve heard ‘Argentina is the best’ for most of the evening,” said the London Irish man.
“These kids are awesome and a joy to be around. It’s nice to come away from the hotel and work with these guys.”
The clinic was a joint initiative involving England Rugby, the British Embassy in Buenos Aires, the Government of the Province of Salta, the House of the Province of Salta in Buenos Aires and the Universitario club.
And England scrum half Lee Dickson, a man never short of something to say, neatly summed up the players’ attitude to the event, and their time in South America.
He said: “We’re here to do a job, win the Test matches and go home happy, but it’s brilliant to come here and add our rugby skills to these young kids and see the smiles on their faces.”
With the job on the evening completed, next task is the First Test at the Estadio Padre Ernesto Martearena – perhaps even with a few new fans.