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Rugby right up Harry's street as he tackles new challenge

Published 21/06/2016

Harry has his eye on the ball
Harry has his eye on the ball

Playful Prince Harry delighted hundreds of youngsters as he showed off his ball skills at a street rugby event.

Harry took part in a scratch game of touch on a tennis court, as part of an initiative to get children to try the game.

He played with local youngsters and members of England's U20 squad who last night beat South Africa to reach the final of the U20 World Championships against Ireland in Salford on Saturday.

And the royal visitor captivated watching youngsters - and their mothers, with his skills during the brief run-out at the event at Alexandra Park in Stockport, Cheshire.

Harry, vice patron of the Rugby Football Union (RFU), is helping the community rugby programme, backed by the RFU and sports charity StreetGames, as part of a drive to encourage youngsters who may not have tried the game before, to give it a go.

The initiative comes as indicators show participation in organised sport drops as teenagers move into young adulthood, and with the rate of drop-off greater in disadvantaged communities.

StreetGames run "Doortstep" and "Pop Up" Clubs offering accessible and interactive sports opportunities to young people in poorer neighbourhoods.

Harry enjoyed a demonstration from Andrew Henderson, world freestyle football champion, who wowed the crowd with his juggling skills - this time with an odd shaped rugby ball.

And he was mobbed by youngsters as he joined in the event, before stopping to chat to well-wishers.

Melanie Beech, 42, from Stockport, brought her son Kian Stokes, 11 and strawberry-blonde haired daughter Maisie Stokes, aged six - who Harry stopped to chat to.

Afterwards Ms Beech said: "That's the first thing he said, 'She's got the same colour hair as me.'

"We have been discussing the Queen's 90th birthday and we got a free magazine and she can pick them all out.

"I have always loved the royals, especially William and Harry."

After the game Harry was mobbed like a pop star as he left the field of play, shaking hands and taking part in the odd-selfie with cheering youngsters as he departed.

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From Belfast Telegraph