A CHICHESTER rugby team had a chance-in-a-lifetime day with the England rugby squad.
Chichester High School’s under-16s – the Grasshoppers – were the winners in a campaign to support grassroots rugby.
Their prize was to attend a private training session with the elite England team.
They beat hundreds of other grass-roots teams in the nationwide competition run by AEG, and spent the day at Pennyhill Park with the England stars.
The boys were shown around the complex and observed their idols performing in the gym and at a lineout session ahead of the 6 Nations game with Wales.
The boys could chat freely to the players during their session and were given a detailed insight into life as one of England’s elite.
They got to take part in a series of exercises and pose for pictures with the likes of Chris Ashton, Ben Youngs, David Strettle, Jordan Turner Hall, Charlie Hodgson and Matt Stevens.
England hooker Dylan Hartley said: “What a great bunch of lads – they were very professional in their appearance and their skill set. I remember playing Chichester when I was 17.”
Grasshoppers’ Jamie Wilcock said “The day was out of this world – every rugby player dreams of this and we have lived it.
“The boys will cherish this for their whole lives. Thanks to AEG and the England squad for organising the day, and our thanks go to our coach who entered us into the competition.”
That coach is Martyn Tilling, who said: “On behalf of the team, I would like to pass on many thanks to AEG. It’s great to have someone supporting sport at our level. It was a day the boys will remember for the rest of their lives.
“The boys have been a real credit to their school and their city and their county. There were positive comments from England players who said how well-mannered the boys were. I hope the boys use this experience to motivate themselves to succeed in their rugby and their academic studies.”
The campaign was part of AEG’s ongoing commitment to support clubs at a grass-roots level in the hope teams will be able to use cash normally spent on sportswear and laundry on training and other facilities instead. Applications for the 2012 competition are open – see www.aeg.co.uk/grassroots for details.