“I’m like a Labrador with a tennis ball as soon as I see a rugby ball.”
A number of Manchester Village Spartans participating in the England Rugby and Sport Relief funded “Try For Change” small grants project were fortunate to be treated to an incredible day of rugby training at Twickenham in the presence of HRH Prince Harry and stars from the England Rugby team.
After an initial get together in the morning with other “Try For Change” clubs in the Spirit of Rugby suite, the Spartans were taken down to the Away Team changing rooms where they chatted to RFU executives and at length with Jonny Wilkinson about grassroots rugby.
Upon being introduced to a friendly and encouraging HRH Prince Harry, we discussed our club history as one of the world’s first gay rugby clubs; Our shared passion for rugby; Our club ambitions to help increase the number of young people engaging in Rugby Union from within our local straight and LGBT communities and; The personal impact the “Try For Change” project and rugby has had on players.
Shortly after, we followed the Royal entourage down the Twickenham tunnel to the stands and joined Prince Harry in watching the England squad’s open training session, in front of a 10,000 crowd of spectators made up of grassroots clubs from across the UK.
Once the Pro-training completed, Spartans’ Gareth Longley, Danny Raine and Michael Westall then joined Joe Launchbury, Danny Care, Sam Underhill and Jonny Wilkinson in their Rugby Master Class on the turf and enjoyed a game of low contact rugby with the Prince watching on from the Try line.
Following more introductions, chats and photo opportunities with England players, the team then enjoyed a Twickenham lunch before heading back to Manchester emboldened by the incredible support, advice and encouragement from, not only HRH Prince Harry, but all of England Rugby and Sport Relief.