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Harry high-fives and hugs pupils as he sees rugby scheme in action

UK News | Published:

Passionate rugby fan Harry visited Lealands High School in Luton.

The Duke of Sussex met young rugby players when he visited a secondary school to mark a major milestone for a Rugby World Cup legacy scheme to get more children playing the sport.

Passionate rugby fan Harry visited Lealands High School in Luton to mark it becoming the 750th to join the Rugby Football Union (RFU) All Schools programme.

The duke watched about 60 students from five local schools take part in touch rugby games and skills sessions before speaking to some of them and their teachers.

The Lealands High School student said: “It was just the inspiration, he is so big in this world and he came to this school.

“It felt crazy to meet someone who is part of the royal family and felt kind of inspirational.”

The All Schools programme was launched in 2012 as a Rugby World Cup 2015 legacy initiative to increase the number of state secondary schools playing rugby union and aimed to introduce 750 additional schools to the game.

Harry visited Lealands High School to celebrate the programme reaching this milestone and met teachers and students from it and four other local schools on the programme: Challney Boys School, The Chiltern Academy, Lea Manor High School and Stopsley High School.

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Duke of Sussex meets schoolchildren
The Duke of Sussex poses for a photograph during the visit (Arthur Edwards/The Sun/PA)

He said: “It was incredible.

“I just can’t believe he actually came to watch rugby, I am so glad to be picked to meet him.

“I gave him an invitation to a barbecue at my house. He didn’t read it but said he would read it later.”

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The duke, who became patron of the All Schools programme in 2013, also met representatives from Denbigh High School and Rokeby High School which are alumni of the programme.

Harry trained as an assistant development officer with the RFU as part of his gap year in 2004, and once qualified went out to schools and clubs around the country assisting community rugby coaches to teach the game to young people.

The duke, who has travelled the world supporting the national side, was in Sydney in 2003 to watch England triumph over Australia in the Rugby World Cup final.

Duke of Sussex
The duke speaks to pupils (Arthur Edwards/The Sun/PA)

The RFU said more than 10,500 students have joined a local rugby club from the All Schools programme.

Its CEO, Bill Sweeney, said: “We are immensely proud that the Duke of Sussex was able to help us celebrate reaching the 750th milestone target for this programme.

“It is great that we had the opportunity to include the pupils and teachers from a new cluster of schools, along with two schools who have graduated from the programme, and their link clubs.

“Rugby is a sport for all and, through the All Schools programme, a positive legacy has been created for children in 750 schools in England through rugby and its core values, making school life happier and healthier, reducing anti-social behaviour, enhancing learning and increasing self-esteem.”

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