On the morning of Sunday 26th November, a group of Year 6 and 7 pupils from Dover College (and their ever-supportive parents) set off to travel the long journey to North London. Their mission was to play a game of rugby at Allianz Park, home of the top Premiership team, Saracens.
The boys and girls had been invited, along with Deal and Betteshanger Rugby Football Club, to play against Brighton at the half time interval at a match between Saracens and the Exeter Chiefs. As the game was between the top two teams in the Premiership, we knew that the stadium would be packed – we weren’t disappointed.
We arrived in plenty of time, which gave the pupils opportunity to visit the team shop, fill up their stomachs (and empty their parents’ wallets) and meet the players. The pupils got autograph after autograph and the players took their time to talk to them about the game and what to expect. The pupils watched the first thirty minutes of the main match and then it was their game time. Deal and Betteshanger Coach, William Wilson, got the team warmed up and ready to play. Jimmy, Year 6, was nervous about going on; my explanation that there were only going to be 45,000 people watching didn’t seem to ease his nerves! Before they played they had a photograph with Channel 5 rugby commentators Mark Durden-Smith and David Flatman, both of whom wished them luck.
The half time game itself was brief but exciting. Geoff had a great run down the centre and Hector tried for a run on the wing. Jimmy and Nicholas both got involved, but all too soon it was over and the main game began again. The team was cheered off the field and then, after more photos, they wrapped up warm and were back watching the game. After a long drive back and much talking about the game and their day, the pupils went home to a well-earned bath and bed.
I would like to thank William Wilson at Deal and Betteshanger Rugby Club for arranging this amazing experience and for all of the support we had from parents on the day.
Hopefully at least one of us will have a son or daughter playing for England (or possibly South Africa) in the future.