Rugby World Cup: Eton Manor youngsters will have a ball

PUBLISHED: 13:00 23 September 2015

Eton Manor's ball boys and girls face the camera before their Rugby World Cup assignment

Eton Manor's ball boys and girls face the camera before their Rugby World Cup assignment


Club ‘honoured’ to play their part in tournament

Eton Manor's under-12s face the camera at the Olympic StadiumEton Manor's under-12s face the camera at the Olympic Stadium

Eton Manor’s juniors have had special reason to look forward to the 2015 Rugby World Cup – they are playing a part in it.

As part of an initiative to involve young people, England Rugby 2015 and the RFU invited clubs to nominate young players in recognition of a commitment to the sport.

So Manor’s youth chairman David Tulip submitted a 250-word application online and was delighted when the club were chosen, along with Hackney, to send a Ball Team to the five fixtures taking place at the former Olympic Stadium.

Tulip said: “I was in Egypt when I realised it was the last day to send applications, but I did it and on the back of that we were awarded it, which was fantastic. But then we had to work out how to select a limited number of children as we’ve got about 50 registered in the under-16 and under-17 age groups!”

After adopting a cunning plan to gauge interest, the final squad was picked using one of the oldest tricks in the book.

Tulip added: “I asked them to register their interest in some training. I deliberately didn’t tell them what it was about, but about 25 showed interest.

“We had to get it down to eight, so we did a paper draw in my kitchen at home, picking names out of a hat. It was totally neutral!”

After a training session with officials from the RFU, the Manor youngsters werre given the chance to practise ball collecting, replacing and delivering at a training match at the Royal Artillery in London between Saracens played Ospreys.

They were then pressed into action on the big stage, when Samoa played the Barbarians in the first-ever international rugby match to be played at the former Olympic Stadium, while other young members from the club got the chance to play on the pitch in a special touch rugby event.

The Manor youngsters will be on duty again tonight when France take on Romania.

Tulip added: “This is wonderful for the children, as they are participating in the third largest sporting event on the planet!

“Eton Manor is one of the closest clubs to the Olympic Stadium. It was around this site in 1920 that Eton Manor converted an old rubbish tip into a new sports ground. This was known as The Wilderness and the New Wilderness is just three tube stops away from the stadium.”

The youngsters themselves cannot wait and Wanstead High School pupil George Bottomley said: “I’m very honoured and privileged and grateful to Eton Manor for allowing me to be a part of it.”

Michael McArdle, of Trinity Catholic High, added: “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me and my peers. It’s fantastic that local teams have been asked to provide support for this major sporting event being held on our doorstep.”

Forest School’s Peggy Pollard said: “I was really excited when I was told I had been chosen to be a ball girl. It’s great to see the professional players and see what it’s like for them to play in a huge stadium in front of millions of people.”

Completing the nine-strong Manor squad are Max Carter, Alfred Firmin, Ella Gable, Joseph Hurley, Adam Mountford and Jack Sullivan,

RFU Development Director Steve Grainger added: “This is a tournament that truly has rugby at its heart and initiatives like this will ensure a lasting legacy for our grassroots clubs.

“The young players selected have demonstrated outstanding commitment to their clubs and deserve this recognition. They are the future of our great sport.”

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