A Didcot school pupil could barely contain his delight after being surprised by Land Rover and some of London Welsh’s biggest stars with the news that he will be an official Rugby World Cup mascot.
Finlay Harrison will not have had a better day at Manor School than on Monday when a school assembly was interrupted by London Welsh’s Olly Barkley, Seb Jewell and Taione Vea.
They were there to surprise Harrison with the news that following an audition at the London Welsh Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup back in March, the 12-year-old had been chosen as an official Rugby World Cup 2015 mascot.
Harrison, who plays for Didcot Rugby Club, will be one of 48 official mascots chosen through the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup, a series of national grassroots tournaments, and he admits he is now counting down the days.
“It was such a shock. We were in assembly and then the players walked in and I got called up and that’s when I found out. I was so excited,” he said.
“I’m a big London Welsh fan so getting to meet the players was great fun, especially in front of the whole school.
“I sang the national anthem at the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup in March and they obviously liked what they heard.
“I think it will be so good to be a mascot at Rugby World Cup 2015. I’m going to watch other mascots before then and see what they do.
“It would be massive to walk out at Twickenham but I’m excited about being a mascot at whatever game.
Land Rover’s search for mascots forms part of their ‘We Deal In Real’ campaign that aims to put grassroots rugby on the global stage during this year’s Rugby World Cup.
Exiles fly-half Barkley admitted that days such as Monday were invaluable for helping to promote rugby at all levels.
“It was really good surprising Finlay at his school like that and we were more than happy to come down as it’s such a fun thing to be involved in,” said Barkley.
“He is definitely a good candidate to be a mascot. He was quite shocked to start with but then he found his voice and was bossing us players about for the photos. It will be the opportunity of a lifetime for Finlay.
“Having a Rugby World Cup in this country, it’s great to be able to spread the word of rugby out into the community and touch people in ways you might not be able to do.
“Going into schools and getting in contact with people at grassroots helps to generate interest in the sport and helps to get more people involved which is only a good thing.”