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A day to remember for young mascots

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Young rugby players from across the Tigers region enjoyed a memorable day at Twickenham after running out as England team mascots for Saturday's QBE International with South Africa.

Thanks to the England Connected initiative, Charlie Jackson from South Leicester RFC, Bayley Smith from Hinckley RFC and Rob Mackenzie and Oliver Jaggard from Holt RFC joined the England team just a few minutes before the national anthems and the kick-off.

Bayley ran out alongside Manu Tuilagi, Charlie joined Dan Cole while 11-year-olds Rob and Oliver, who play for Holt under-12s, were alongside Ben and Tom Youngs. They were four of 23 young players from the senior squad’s formative clubs who took on the mascot role as England Rugby reinforced its connection with the grass roots game.

It was the final instalment of a wonderful few week for the young players, who had already met the Tigers favourites and the rest of the England squad at a training camp at Pennyhill Park.

Rob said: “I enjoyed the whole day and coming out of the tunnel onto the pitch was the best bit.

“Ben said to me ‘shall we have a little run’ so we did. It was amazing to be there in front of such a big crowd and hear the roar as we came out.”

Charlie Jackson’s father Gary added: “We taught Charlie the National Anthem before we went down to Twickenham and he was very proud to stand in front of Dan and to sing it with him.

“He took everything in and gave me a full run through on what was a memorable day for him and the family at the end of it.

“He was aware that Dan Cole also started his career at South Leicester and I think that this initiative has been excellent in connecting the England team with the grassroots of the game.

“It’s a brilliant idea. The England players start their rugby careers at clubs like South Leicester and Charlie now appreciates that he has the opportunity to get there as well.”

England head coach Stuart Lancaster said: “The England players take the responsibility of representing the country very seriously, on and off the field. They feel they represent not just themselves, but also their family, friends and all those who have helped them on their journey."

Read more about the young players’ fantastic day at Twickenham in the Tigers matchday programme, available at Saturday’s Welford Road clash with Bath Rugby (kick-off 12.30pm).