Despite the disappointing defeat that England faced in the Rugby World Cup, Prince Harry has turned his focus to a more positive cause, an increased awareness of rugby. Visiting Devon on Wednesday, he stopped at the Paignton Rugby Club and, while there, offered his support for the Rugby Football Union’s legacy programme that promotes rugby to adults and children alike.
At the club, he met eager young rugby players who take part in the RFU’s All Schools Programme, many of them belonging to over 400 state schools. The programme centers on spreading awareness of rugby and aims to grow by bringing the nationally celebrated sport to 350 schools by the next World Cup, hosted in Japan, in 2019.
Harry expressed an eagerness to “regroup and rebuild” after the disappointing defeats by Australia and Wales. Although he was only at the club for three-quarters of an hour, he met with an array of different rugby enthusiasts, including youths who had recently taken up the sport. He presented the town club with a gold award in recognition of the refurbishment of its clubhouse as well as its increased communal importance.
When invited by a group of young people to partake in a game, Harry, unfortunately, had to decline, stating that he was wearing a suit and thus not properly attired. Although unable to join them, he spoke often and interacted with them. Furthermore, he enquired as to their speculations on who would win now that England was no longer in the mix. A popular refrain was Japan. Upon hearing mention of the country, he declared that it would be fantastic if Japan did win.
Harry kindly encouraged the young people to commit to playing rugby, a rewarding lifelong practice. He fondly referred to the endless hours of training in the rain as well as in the dark. The prince then enquired as to who they thought the best team in the league was, after the team captain; John Clare had remarked that the club took part in the Devon and Cornwall League. Upon hearing the question asked, the captain jokingly replied that they were in the “top three” category.
As he was leaving the Paignton Rugby Club, Harry was gifted with a pair of black rugby boots that bore his name. From there, he went to attend the Namibia vs Georgia game that took place in Exeter.
Harry is Honorary President of England 2015 and Vice-Patron of the Rugby Football Union (RFU). Next week The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will host a reception for participating nations at Buckingham Palace in October. Her Majesty, accompanied by Prince Harry and The Princess Royal, will greet representatives from each of the 20 competing teams and those involved in the organisation of the World Cup.
Photo Credit: via Koehnz via Flickr