The Thomas Lord Audley student Michael Williamson had a day to remember at Twickenham when he paraded as flagbearer on the pitch ahead of England’s NatWest 6 Nations clash with Wales.
Michael was given this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity due to his selection as an elite academy player for Northampton Saints and his involvement in the CBRE All Schools programme where he has set a positive role model to other students.
Launched in 2012, the initiative has been developed by the RFU to increase the amount of rugby played in schools, to encourage new players to join local clubs and to create a positive legacy through the sport and its core values. The initiative aims to take rugby into 750 state secondary schools by 2019.
Last autumn, representatives from the RFU’s official partner Canterbury conducted kit-design workshops around the country, including The Thomas Lord Audley School. The bespoke kit designed by the pupils from the school will be delivered in the coming weeks for the teams to play in for the rest of the season and years to come.
Michael thought he would feel insignificant in a packed stadium of 82,000 passionate supporters, but he actually felt privileged to be part of an amazing experience that he appreciates comes once in a life time. TLA was one of 80 schools to make the trip to London as part of the CBRE All Schools programme this season.
Michael added: “From today I’ve taken that you need to enjoy rugby to go further in it, and just be inspired by it.”
Ellis Genge gave a talk about what rugby has done for his life and how the sport’s core values of teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline and sportsmanship can apply to many real-life situations, not just on the rugby field.
“When I was younger we didn’t go too far but some of these schools have travelled from all over the country to come down here, so it’s a great day all round,” said Genge.
“It’s great to see all of the young rugby players from around the country coming together as one. 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.
Thankfully England won with a strong performance over Wales 12-6 helped by a double try by winger Jonny May