A RUGBY-mad Wirksworth youngster has enjoyed a week to remember, rubbing shoulders with some of the sport’s biggest names.
Middleton Primary School pupil Brandon Harrison, 8, plays his rugby for Matlock RFC’s under nines and is also a keen member of the Middleton and Wirksworth Freestyle Wrestling Club.
His unforgettable week began when he stepped onto the hallowed turf at Twickenham as one of the mascots for the England v Barbarians last weekend, which was won 38-32 by the Barbarians.
Then, on Sunday, he took up his place on a special rugby training day, also at Twickenham, hosted by ex-England stars Austin Healey and Will Greenwood.
Proud dad Alex Harrison explained: “Brandon has just completed his first year playing rugby and he’s really keen on it. As a treat, I signed him up for membership of the England Junior Supporters Club and they have lots of competitions that the kids can get involved in.
“There were two separate ones – to be a mascot for the Barbarians game and to attend the training day – and after they rang him up and asked a few questions, Brandon was selected for both, which was fantastic for him.”
Alex continued: “Not surprisingly, he was over the moon when he heard about the first one so you can imagine how excited he was about the second one when that came through a few days later.
“He was talking about nothing else leading up to the week and it certainly lived up to his expectations. Both events were extremely well-run for the youngsters and very impressive.
“Brandon was really looking forward to the Barbarians match but once he got there, like the other mascots, I think he got a bit nervous at the thought of stepping out in front of a crowd of that size, but once they’d had a rehearsal, they were fine.
“So when he walked out, he had the biggest smile on his face and he loved singing the national anthem at the top of his voice. Both events were superb. At the match, we had great seats near the players’ tunnel and the training day proved to be really useful for him too.”
Brandon is big fan of flying England winger Chris Ashton and has ambitions of his own to play for England one day.
Alex concluded: “Brandon met England coach Martin Johnson and was given a full England kit, which he signed for him, so that was a real bonus. He’s not stopped talking about it all and I imagine he’s been filling his friends in at school this week.”