A young rugby fan from Mount St Joseph School got the experience of a lifetime when they unveiled their school’s new Canterbury rugby shirt in front of thousands at Twickenham ahead of England’s RBS 6 Nations clash with Italy.
The opportunity came as part of the CBRE All Schools programme, launched in 2012 by the Rugby Football Union, which aims to get more state secondary schools playing rugby and encourage students to join local clubs.
Tom Ryan was one of 100 students from across England who took to the pitch before kick-off, unveiling their school’s newly designed shirts ahead of the national anthems.
The 15-year-old admitted the whole day – which also saw him meet CBRE All Schools Ambassador and England international Billy Vunipola, line up on the pitch for the anthems and then sit in the crowd afterwards for the action – would live long in the memory.
“I felt very nervous before going out on the pitch but also so excited,” said Tom, who was joined by teacher Phil Drummond.
“We have a cross on our shirt because we’re a Catholic school and we want to show how proud we are of that. The sleeves have our houses from the school on them.
“The main colour of the shirt is blue which is a peaceful colour but we also can defend ourselves.”
Also in attendance at Twickenham on the day were pupils from Ladybridge High School, St Matthew’s RC High School and Walkden High School who are also members of the CBRE All Schools programme and joined Tom on the pitch.
Each shirt was individually designed by the school children at Canterbury kit design workshops last year.
Pupils worked with Canterbury to learn about the core values of rugby, the pride associated with the shirt and the importance of colours, logos and emblems.
England and Saracens No 8 Vunipola was also on hand at the kit unveil to share his experience of what it means to represent England, the importance of the shirt and take centre stage at Twickenham on match day.
“It’s great to see more state secondary schools getting involved in rugby through the CBRE All Schools programme,” he said.
“The atmosphere in Twickenham on match day is very special and it’s fantastic that the students got to experience it first-hand. Who knows, maybe one of them will be playing for England one day!”
Chris Stephenson, CEO of Canterbury, added: “This is our fourth year as Official Partner of the All Schools programme – something we are extremely proud to be part of.
“The students did their schools proud by wearing a shirt they designed at such a huge game. Hopefully some special memories were made.”
CBRE All Schools supported by Canterbury is one of the RFU’s key legacy programmes, set up to increase the number of state secondary schools playing rugby union in England. Visit www.englandrugby.com/allschools to find out more.