Cerys Reece, from Bridlington School, and Melissa Freeman, from Headlands School, got the experience of a lifetime when they unveiled their respective school’s new Canterbury rugby shirt in front of thousands at Twickenham ahead of England’s Guinness Six Nations clash with Italy.
Just minutes before England kicked off against the Italians on Saturday, Reece proudly entered the famous Twickenham pitch wearing her school’s new playing kit for the national anthems.
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.
Reece was one of 62 students from across England who were picked to unveil their new shirts in front of thousands of rugby supporters on behalf of their respective schools.
And the 14-year-old admitted the whole day – which also saw her meet CBRE All Schools Ambassador and England international Zoe Aldcroft, from Scarborough, line up on the pitch for the anthems and then sit in the crowd afterwards for the action – would live long in the memory.
“It was a really, really good day,” said Reece.
“I really liked the shirt of course because we designed it and it’s like everything we ever wanted. The designing process was really inspiring as we saw other t-shirts.
“I’d never been to Twickenham before so I was excited to go.”
Each shirt was individually designed by the school children at Canterbury kit design workshops last year.
Pupils worked with Canterbury employees to learn about the core values of rugby, the pride associated with the shirt and the importance of colours, logos and emblems.
Aldcroft was also on hand at the kit unveil to share her experience of what it means to represent England, the importance of the shirt and take centre stage at Twickenham on match day.
She said: “I think this is such a good idea for the children to design their shirt, I’ve never heard of anything like this before.
“This gives every kind of child, whether they’re creative or not, a chance to have a go at rugby because if they’ve designed the shirt, then they will obviously want to go out and play in it.
“So I think it’s a really good way of engaging children at such a young age from grassroots levels into the game and it’s really good for girls and boys as well.”
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.
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