- All Schools bonuses continue to mount
- Now Prince Harry teams up with Oakbank
Photo: RFU Archive
Since Oakbank School in Keighley became involved with the RFU’s All Schools programme, the cascade of treats which have been coming their way has been almost torrential.
It started with a visit to Twickenham and an impromptu meeting with England Head Coach Stuart Lancaster, which was followed by a visit to the school from Keighley MP Kris Hopkins.
Last week, however, came the biggest thrill to date when a group of youngsters were invited to Twickenham once again to take part in the launch of the second tranche of All Schools activity, a coaching session with none other than Prince Harry and former British and Irish Lion and England international Jason Robinson being the reward for their journey to “headquarters”.
Photo: RFU Archive
That visit also made the news when a call came from BBC Radio Leeds to visit the studios for an early-morning programme interview with Georgie Spanswick, with PE Teacher Matthew Lloyd, PE Technician Melissa Houldsworth and pupils Alfie Cracknell, Jonny Tanner and Tom Mawer up with the larks to keep their public in touch with the latest celebrity developments.
“It was a fantastic experience, just a privilege really,” said Lloyd. “It was an experience that in another time might have been given to a public school or one that has been playing the game for a long time.
“But the All Schools programme which started in 2012 aims to make rugby available to all schools, as the name suggests, and we’ve been lucky enough to be part of that initial 100-club selection.
“Initially we were indebted to my colleague Michael Derrick for getting the All Schools programme up-and-running – sadly he is out of action at the moment with an injury – and to Ian Simons, who came from the local rugby club and helped give us the specialist expertise to make a fist of the 15-a-side game.
“This trip was another superb adventure and one that will last a long time in all our memories. Just to stand on the famous Twickenham pitch was a real thrill for Mel and me, but for the lads to play on it alongside Prince Harry and Jason was the kind of experience that lasts a lifetime.
“We were the last of the five schools involved to meet Prince Harry and Jason and we had 15 minutes playing tag rugby with them and getting some rugby tips.
“They were both very friendly and easy to talk to, teasing each other as to whose team was winning. The Prince was very approachable and ordinary – a very nice chap who obviously enjoyed his rugby and did not find working with a bunch of kids to be any hardship.
“He chatted with us afterwards and came across as just a nice, easy-going bloke with no edge. It was a pleasure to meet him and Jason.”
“It was a long journey down to Twickenham, but it was definitely worth it when we got there,” said Jonny. “We had an idea that Prince Harry would be involved, but it was only confirmed when we got there, so we were very excited.”
“He was just like a normal person,” added Tom. “He was just down to earth.”