All eyes were on the pitch at Twickenham on Saturday for the kick-off of England’s hotly anticipated Six Nations game against Italy.
But friends, family, classmates and teachers of Leo Flexney, 16, were watching closely for another reason.
Leo, a Year 11 student at Tupton Hall School, joined dozens of school rugby players from across the country on the five-metre line waving white Canterbury flags, just before the game kicked off.
The opportunity came after Leo and his Tupton Hall team mates Joe Crook and James Collins designed a shirt for their team as part of the CBRE All Schools Rugby programme run by the Rugby Football Union (RFU). The shirts were produced by rugby kit specialists Canterbury and were launched at the weekend.
Sixty schools took part with representatives proudly wearing their new shirts during the anthems at the start of the England v Italy match.
Leo’s mum, Helen Flexney, said afterwards: “Leo had a great day representing Tupton on Saturday. What a great opportunity to hold the flag at Twickenham and to watch the England v Italy game with such great results. Thanks to Tupton Hall for giving him this experience.”
The Canterbury kit design workshops are a key element of the CBRE All Schools programme, engaging children in a more creative side of rugby, and providing schools with a personalised Canterbury team kit for their players to wear with pride.
The programme takes rugby into state secondary schools giving children who wouldn’t otherwise have had the chance, the opportunity to play rugby.
Earlier on Saturday Leo attended the ceremonial unveiling of the new shirts at Richmond College in London. There he met England rugby players Zoe Aldcroft and Sam Underhill and heard them talk about their careers and the importance of grassroots rugby.
Meanwhile back in Derbyshire the Tupton Hall Under 13s rugby squad secured a draw and a win in an All Schools Rugby festival at Amber Valley RUFC where they wore the new shirts. Tibshelf, Swanwick Hall, Frederick Gent and David Neiper Academy also competed.
The All Schools programme provides each school with a bespoke three-year delivery plan and package of funding, resources and support linked to a local rugby club. This helps schools embed rugby as a sport and an ethos, moving from hands-on support to a self-sustained model for the future.
Tupton Hall School has been partnered with Tupton RUFC and has worked closely with club secretary Bob Curry.
Tupton Hall’s Head of PE Rob Moxon said: “We would like to thank Bob for his support this season. He has worked with is on a Monday night to assist with the training and development of the U13s. Year 11 students Owen Alvey, Joe Crook and James Collins have also been involved as coaching staff.”
Leo plays for Tupton RUFC and was previously a star player with Chesterfield Panthers where he captained a team and won trophies including Coaches Player, Players Player, Most Improved Player and Best Newcomer.