Several lucky Neale-Wade Academy, March, students attended an open training session with the England Rugby team at Twickenham Stadium.
After watching the team prepare for the new Six Nations season, they had rugby balls, shirts and even phone covers signed by their heroes, including newly-appointed captain, Dylan Hartley.
The session provided an excellent insight into new head coach Eddie Jones’ training methods, with the Australian and his team hooked up to microphones projecting their instructions through the stadium’s speakers.
Harvey Brown, a Year 8 student at Neale-Wade, spoke of his delight at the opportunity.
“It was an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience, all thanks to my teachers who had taken the time to organise the trip,” he said.
“I got a photo with Jack Nowell and picked up some great training techniques that I can use at my club to improve our physical fitness and awareness.”
Year 12 student, Lewis Harvey, also spoke of the effect of watching the team: “It was a fantastic day, in which I and the other students were able to develop our skills based on the training of professional players.
“I personally enjoyed watching the forwards train, as I got to watch their patterns of play, which I will try to replicate in my own training.”
Neale-Wade were invited to the session as a result of their partnership with the Rugby Football Union (RFU) under the ‘All Schools’ programme.
The programme has seen the RFU invest an initial £2million into bringing the sport into 750 schools and academies in the UK, with a further £8million pledged, enabling the PE department at Neale-Wade to invest in equipment and increase coaching expertise.
Head of School, Aynsley Welling, said: “It was an opportunity for the players at the academy to see what it takes to become an elite rugby professional.
“The sessions highlighted the difference in requirements for each position on the field and allowed those assembled to appreciate the fine detail that is considered at the very top level of professional rugby.”
The England team won their Six Nations opener 15-9 against hosts Scotland on Saturday.