SPORTY youngsters from South Tyneside took centre stage at the home of English rugby with their new school kits.
Pupils of Hebburn Comprehensive, St Joseph’s RC Comprehensive, also in Hebburn, and Boldon School took part in kit design workshops run by sportswear maker canterbury last year as part of a Rugby Football Union educational programme.
Pupils learned about the core values of rugby and the pride associated with the shirt before coming up with their own designs.
Their drawings were then turned into bespoke final kits by the team at Canterbury, the official supplier for England’s rugby team.
They were unveiled for the first time at Twickenham in London on Sunday, ahead of England’s RBS Six Nations clash with Italy.
Aaron James Overman, of Hebburn Comprehensive, Robbie Hastings, of St Joseph’s, and Sam Shepherd, of Boldon School, were handed their shirts by England prop Alex Corbisiero and England women’s hooker Amy Turner.
Shirts from the 100 participating schools were revealed to the 82,000-strong crowd as the pupils brought a giant England shirt onto the pitch before kick-off and also during a half-time parade.
Canterbury chief executive Chris Stephenson said: “It was an amazing spectacle seeing all the children on the pitch wearing their unique shirts. There were some great designs.”
The union’s All Schools initiative, of which Prince Harry is patron, is a long-term programme dedicated to introducing rugby into more secondary state schools.
England head coach Stuart Lancaster said: “The match shirt is a source of huge pride for the players.
“By teaching pupils who are new to the game the core values of rugby union and the history of the shirt, I’m sure these school teams will share the same passion for their own design.”
Canterbury is giving each school 20 rugby shirts in their own designs.