Students and staff met at 8:15 on Sunday 26th February at CAN car park for the eagerly anticipated clash between England and Italy in the RBS Six Nations. The excitement started early with students turning up ready to go in the CAN rugby kit for their own clash with Suffolk school Chantry Academy which would take place on the Twickenham pitch before the international test.
Mr Moggan and Mrs Parnell left at 8:30 south to Twickenham stadium with the boys in the minibus with Miss Kitson, Mr Taylor, Mr Reeve and Mr Payne in convoy shortly behind. After a quick breakfast stop on the way down, the boys and staff were met at the Lions gate of the stadium by a member of the RFU for a briefing and to collect passes. We were quickly ushered through the crowds to the main entrance where the England players would shortly follow.
We were taken behind the scenes at Twickenham to our dressing room, and after another briefing the boys rehearsed the guard of honour, impressing the RFU member so much that CAN were awarded the England side of the guard of honour much to the boys’ delight!
It was now time for the students to play their game, and as they were led out onto the pitch it was clear the magnitude of what they were doing had only just hit them. Walking out to a stadium of 82,000 capacity was something special which even the staff found hard to contain their excitement. With famous internationals warming up on the pitch such as George Ford, Owen Farrell and Mario Itoje, the boys could not believe their luck. Students played two 5 a side games against the Suffolk opposition lasting 10 minutes each. Both games were played at high intensity, students clearly inspired by their surroundings and brushing shoulders with legends of the game. All the boys played magnificently with some piercing runs from Justas Gurskas, great hands from Tyson Finch and some crafty footwork from Alfie Murdoch. Both schools can be proud of how they played and portrayed themselves truly showing the core values of England Rugby in Teamwork, Respect, Enjoyment, Discipline and Sportsmanship.
Once the boys had finished their games and posed for photos there was a small break for lunch provided by the RFU, and then it was time to form up ready for the guard of honour. Students poised in position, whole both International teams ran out onto the pitch to the roar of 82,000 fans, fireworks and flames. Standing proud for both national anthems students and staff embraced this special moment. After the national anthems there was a quick turnaround for the boys to wrap up and get to the stands for what was to be an intriguing game.
England as expected took to attack in the early phases of the game but were frustrated with no score after 20 minutes of play. It was actually the Italians who scored first with a penalty. From this they took to frustrate the England team and fans by using the unorthodox tactic at not committing at the ruck. This led to no offside line and meant that England could not play their preferred attacking free flowing style of play. The Italians went into the break with a 10 – 5 lead to the dismay of the English fans after an Italian penalty deflected off one of the posts into the grateful hands of Venditti the Italian winger who put over for a try.
Students and staff were thoroughly entertained in the first half and eagerly anticipating the second with England attacking towards where we were sitting. Eddie Jones must of given the England team a stern talking to at half–time as England came out to the second half all guns blazing, scoring two tries right in front of us much to the boy’s joy! England had a much more convincing second half after sussing out the Italian tactics going out 36 – 15 winners at the end of the day. An excellent game with 5 England tries at our end of the pitch!
After making our way back to the minibus in a conga-line like fashion through the crowds we made our slow way back to Norfolk getting back to the CAN site at 21:15. A long day for the boys and the staff, but equally one they will never forget. A big thank you to Mr Moggan and the staff at RFU for organising such an event.
Staff – Mr Moggan, Mrs Parnell, Mr Taylor, Mr Reeve and Mr Payne
Students – Oli Raven, Crispian Ford, Lewis Savage, Tiason Finch, Bradley Cooper, Tomas Ignatavicius, Alfie Murdoch, Justas Gurskas, Kieran McGivern, Jake Roper and Oli Turner.