As 82,000 fans stoodsilent and the England and Welsh teams linedup before the RBS 6 Nations clash kicked off on Sunday, 100 secondary school students from across England tooka deep breath as they preparedto perform the National Anthem alongside Laura Wright, England Rugby’s official anthem singer and Sam Ridgwell, Y10 at King’s Lynn Academywas one of them.
The pyrotechnics illuminatedtheir distinctive rugby shirts which they had all personally designed at a Canterbury kit design workshop as part of All Schools; England Rugby’s programme to help more secondary state school students play rugby. As Official Partner, Canterbury, the official kit supplier to England Rugby, ran the workshops for each school to get pupils interested in, and actively involved in, rugby for their school.
Kings Lynn Academy were accepted onto the All Schools Rugby programme at the start of the year and have recently received 20 of the custom designed shirts from Canterbury as part of the programme. Four boys were selected to travel to Cambridge before Christmas and got to work with a member of the Canterbury design team in order to create a custom shirt for the rugby team. The day involved learning about the history of the England shirt and about the designs of different shirts. The boys had to present their ideas on the day and spent several hours refining the shirt. Once the design was finalised the designer took the drawings away and work was started on the unique shirts.
The shirts have recently arrived at the Academy and Sam Ridgwell, captain of the Year 10 rugby team, travelled to Twickenham at theweekend for thedebut appearance on Twickenham’s hallowed turf.
Sam spent the morning rehearsing in the empty stadium, along with 99 other boys from around the country who were also on the programme, practising the national anthem alongside Laura Wright as part of the presentation ceremony. However, it was a very different experience once Twickenham was filled with thousands of flag waving fans, “In the morning, when we were practising, you could hear yourself singing but once the stadium was full, the atmosphere was electric and it was amazing to be part of this once-in-a-lifetime experience!”
England Head Coach, Stuart Lancaster, said: “The anthem is a powerful force of unity and on a match day is crucial in building support from the crowd to get behind the team before kick-off. Having created a shirt myself at one of the Canterbury workshops, where the students were also learning about the game’s core values, I’m looking forward to seeing the huge variety of designs on show on Sunday.”
Sam’s parents, who joined him at Twickenham, said “The whole experience was absolutely amazing - we are still running on adrenaline from such a fantastic weekend. Thanks again to Mr May at the Academy for arranging the All Schools experience for the lads to take part in. The rugby shirts are fantastic and I hope the team do the school proud when wearing them.”
King’s Lynn Academy Principal, Craig Morrison, said “We are so pleased to have been accepted on to this programme and the opportunities it has and will continue to offer our students. Sam did a magnificent job in representing the Academy at Twickenham and I look forward to seeing the team perform in their new shirts at their next match; hopefully a win like England!”