Prince Harry: I’m still like a dog with a tennis ball whenever I get near rugby
The royal said he ‘played for years’ as he watched England stars train at Twickenham.
Prince Harry may have hung up his rugby boots but the former school scrum half has described himself as like a “Labrador with a tennis ball” whenever he sees a rugby ball.
Harry’s confession came when he visited Twickenham Stadium to celebrate grassroots clubs and charities using rugby for good – and saw the England team as they trained for their Six Nations clash with Scotland.
Before stepping onto the south-west London pitch to watch the national stars train in front of an invited audience of around 10,000 people, he met organisations that have received grants from the Rugby Football Union’s (RFU) Try For Change Fund.
Harry, the RFU’s patron, and England’s Rugby World Cup hero Jonny Wilkinson chatted to teenagers supported by the Plymouth Sports Charity who have been learning rugby coaching to encourage their personal development.
Quizzed about his own rugby background, Harry said: “I played for years, I played scrum half for about five or six years until I got too tall and instead of being a forward I elected to be a fly-half.”
He said he did not play any more after “numerous injuries”, adding “But I’m like a Labrador with a tennis ball as soon as I see a rugby ball”.
The prince told the young coaches: “Honestly, it’s guys like you… you’re now the ambassadors for the sport and the difference it makes.
“We can spend as much time as we can trying to drill it into people but you’re it and the fact it works and makes a difference and is so simple – the most important thing is that development and you are having fun at the same time.”
On the touchline Harry chatted to England head coach Eddie Jones and other staff as the backs and forwards were put through their paces.
Around 10,000 supporters, many youngsters, from clubs and schools were in the stands to watch the national team.
Harry shared a joke with some of the players as they came off the pitch including England flanker James Haskell, who described the training session as one of the toughest he has ever taken part in and how the prince always gives him a bit of “stick”.
Speaking after his exertions on the pitch, he said: “That was horrible, it’s just whenever you play unstructured rugby like that, moving from one thing to another to another thing – which is exactly how you need to train but very, very tough.”
Haskell added: “It’s great to come to Twickenham and very special the fans can get involved, it’s all part and parcel of rugby.
“I’ve known Harry since we played cricket against each other at school, so he always gives me a bit of stick here and there, and he gets it back.
Haskell went on: “Everyone knows Harry’s a massive rugby fan, he’s been an unbelievable supporter of everything that’s good about English rugby.
“It’s great to see a smiling face, he’s always got something positive to say and ready to give a bit of stick when needed and you’ve got to love it.”
Before leaving, the prince watched some of the organisations supported by the Try For Change Fund take part in a training session with a few of the England players.