A Stonehouse school pupil could barely contain his delight after being surprised by Land Rover and some of Gloucester Rugby’s biggest stars with the news that he will be an official Rugby World Cup 2015 mascot.
Henry Garrard will not have had a better day at Wycliffe School than on Wednesday when a school sports lesson was interrupted by Gloucester’s Tom Savage, Sione Kalamafoni and John Afoa.
They were there to surprise Garrard with the news that following an audition at the Gloucester Rugby Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup back in March the 11-year-old had been chosen as an official Rugby World Cup 2015 mascot.
Garrard, who plays for Minchinhampton 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 absolutely great to find out I had been picked, I was so excited," he said.
"I was in the school hall playing cricket when the Gloucester players walked in with the head teacher.
"My first thought was that I had done something wrong but then I found out I had been picked to be a Rugby World Cup mascot and I was overjoyed.
"At the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup I had to answer a question to the camera and my question was – What would you say to an international rugby team coming to England?
"So I said ‘Welcome to the home of rugby, and to the greatest team in the world.’
"I’m a big Gloucester fan too and Tom Savage is one of my favourite players so it was great to meet him and he was giving me some useful rugby tips.
"I can’t wait until Rugby World Cup 2015 now, I may need to buy some more rugby kit."
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.
And Gloucester flanker Savage admitted that days such as Wednesday were invaluable for helping to promote rugby at all levels.
"To see the look on young Henry’s face when we walked in was so much fun. I think he first thought he was about to get a telling off or something," said Savage.
"But once he got over the shock he was really happy. He plays rugby himself so it’s a great chance for him to see a game first hand and to meet the players.
"I’m sure he will do a fantastic job. Having a Rugby World Cup here this year is great for the whole country, for the players getting to play in the big games but also the fans and inspiring people like Henry."
If you want to be at the world's biggest club rugby final, this year's Aviva Premiership Rugby Final on 30 May, and be in with a chance of becoming a Rugby World Cup 2015 mascot, tickets are still available from premiershiprugby.com/final. Junior tickets start at £12.50.