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England volunteers coach Ponsonby juniors

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Geoff Parling, Ed Slater and Ben Youngs were among the England players who helped Ponsonby Rugby Club celebrate their 140th birthday on Saturday.

England players, who are in New Zealand at the start of a three-Test tour, ran a series of drills in the Auckland sunshine with enthusiastic groups of 11-13 year-old kids.
The 16 players were joined by ex-Tigers centre Dan Bowden, a former Ponsonby player, and the England Under 20 squad, who started their Junior World Championship title defence against Italy today (Monday).
Former All Black and Ponsonby club president Bryan Williams paid tribute to the England players for giving up their free time on Saturday to create lifelong memories for some junior members of his club, which has produced more than 50 All Blacks over the years.
After winning 38-Test caps between 1970 and 1978, “Beegee” was President of the New Zealand Rugby Union during Rugby World Cup 2011. He said: “It’s fantastic for our youngsters to rub shoulders with the international players and those memories live on forever. Many of the kids who took part in those drills today will never forget that, so well done to the England boys.
“There’s 140 years of history and heritage and lots of families have passed through Ponsonby Rugby Club. We’ve had some good successes; we’ve managed to produce a number of All Blacks so we’re very proud and as you can see today there are lots of young players and their parents out here, so we’re very pleased.”
The other 15 members of the 31-man initial tour party were accompanied by head coach Stuart Lancaster to a fundraising event for New Zealand’s rugby charity Cure Kids with High Commissioner Vicki Treadell.
Lancaster said: “It’s been good to get our boys out of the hotel and come and see what a rugby club in New Zealand is really like.
“For our boys to volunteer for this and stick their names down is great – it wasn’t hard to get the volunteers to come out.
“We want to give something back. We want to show people from New Zealand that they have a perception of us that is perhaps wrong. We want to change that perception and show that we’re good ambassadors for our country.”