Prince Harry invited to visit schools in St Albans
PUBLISHED: 10:44 01 April 2013 | UPDATED: 10:44 01 April 2013
A RIGHT royal invitation has been extended to sports fan Prince Harry, recently announced as patron for the Rugby Football Union’s (RFU) all-schools programme, to visit state secondary schools in St Albans.
While around 1,500 state secondary schools throughout the UK currently teach rugby union, the RFU has revealed that Prince Harry will support the organisation’s ambition for 750 more to offer the sport by the time the Rugby World Cup kicks off in 2019.
Although England is hosting the eighth Rugby World Cup in 2015, the plan is to gradually increase the number of students playing by the time the tournament is played in Japan four years later.
A St James’s Palace spokesperson said: “This patronage will allow Prince Harry to combine his passion for rugby with his work to help children and young people in society to build their skills, confidence and aspirations.
“Prince Harry recognises that rugby can play an important role in helping to achieve this.”
Local schools hope that the royal will back up his pledge and personally visit the area to show his support for the sport.
Michael Owen, former Wales and British Lions rugby captain, and currently a trainee PE teacher at Sandringham School, said having Prince Harry backing the programme was a, “fantastic idea and hopefully it will make a positive difference.
“Hopefully it’ll be followed through, and it’s not just for publicity reasons.”
Michael said that a concerted effort by the royal could result in a boost in the number of pupils playing the sport.
He added: “Herts is a strong rugby area but there needs to be further investment as there are plenty of talented players.
“Just seeing the talent in local secondary schools, there is a lot of capability for people to play excellent rugby.
“I would like to invite Prince Harry to visit us as it would be fantastic to have someone so high profile visit. It would give the sport a massive boost.”
David Bullock, deputy head teacher at Verulam School, said: “It would be absolutely brilliant if he could come to St Albans. The difference with Princes Harry and William is that they seem to genuinely enjoy sport, such as at London 2012.
“Prince Harry is a great ambassador because he is so down-to-earth. I think he has a genuine interest in rugby because you see him at lots of games, so only positives can come out of this.”
David added: “Rugby is a game where you can be any shape or size and there is a role for everyone, it’s accessible for all.”
Canterbury is the inaugural official partner for the RFU’s all-schools programme.
The initiative includes linking schools to local clubs, and helping with coaching and young leaders’ training.
Ian Ritchie, chief executive of the RFU, said: “We are delighted that Prince Harry and Canterbury have pledged their support.”