THREE Swindon schoolchildren set the tone for an England victory over Wales at Twickenham on Sunday with a rendition of the national anthem in front of more than 80,000 spectators.
Kingsdown School’s Jake Lovelock, 13, Swindon Academy’s Connor Poynter, 15, and The Dorcan Academy’s Joe Killick, 15, were all invited to attend the RBS Six Nations encounter as part of an England Rugby schools programme.
The trio were involved in the creation of a rugby shirt for their respective schools, which were then manufactured by official kit supplier Canterbury, and given to them to wear on Sunday.
Joining pupils picked from across the nation, the boys wore their shirts in the centre of the pitch and belted out God Save the Queen to a television audience of millions.
Jake, of Callaghan Close, said: “It was amazing. We spent the first half of the day practising the singing and had to arrange ourselves in height order.
“We then went out on to the pitch to practise how we set ourselves on the pitch. It all had to be very precise.”
The boys got the chance to sing alongside soprano Laura Wright, England Rugby’s official anthem singer, though there were no personal meetings with players.
“We got to see both teams warming up – they were massive. When you get up close to them they look so different to what you see on the TV,” said Jake.
“I was kind of proud to represent my school at the same time. Wearing the shirt me and my friends designed was amazing.”
All of those who took part have been sent a full complement of shirts to take back to their schools, who will now use the special design as their full-time kit for school matches.
Connor said: “It was the first time we had seen the shirts. They were quite good – not a cheap material. It will be great for the school to play in them.
“Singing the anthem in front of all those people was awesome. It was a big pitch and stadium to take in. During the rehearsals, before all the people arrived, it was so echoey. It was nerve-wracking, but something I will never forget.”
The kit design workshops were part of All Schools, England Rugby’s programme to get more secondary state schools playing rugby.
During the workshops the pupils got to learn about the core values of the game and the importance of the rugby shirt before putting their thoughts and designs to paper.
The final designs were signed off by the school before Canterbury took them away to prepare the students’ artwork for production, leading to the official reveal at Twickenham on Sunday.