An Ivybridge school pupil could barely contain his delight after being surprised by Land Rover and some of Exeter Chiefs biggest stars with the news that he will be an official Rugby World Cup mascot.
Archie Bryan will not have had a better day than on Thursday when, what he thought was a trip to Exeter Chiefs Sandy Park ground to pick up tickets with his dad turned into a meet and greet with Henry Slade and Luke Cowan-Dickie.
The Chiefs contingent were there to surprise Bryan with the news that following an audition at the Exeter Chiefs Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup back in October the 12-year-old had been chosen as an official Rugby World Cup mascot.
Bryan, who plays for Ivybridge Community College, 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.
"I was told by my dad that we needed to go to Sandy Park to pick up tickets and then as we were walking along outside, Henry Slade and Luke Cowan-Dickie came up to me and said hi and told me I had been picked, which was amazing," said the Ivybridge Community College pupil.
"I played at the Exeter Chiefs Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup back at the start of the season, it was quite a long time ago and I hadn’t really thought anymore about the audition where I sang the national anthem in front of the camera on the day. So to find out I had been picked as a mascot for Rugby World Cup 2015, I was shocked but it’s such a privilege.
"Henry and Luke were great, we got to go out and do some kicking practice afterwards which I really enjoyed.
"I’ve been playing rugby since I was five years old, it would be great to get to run out at Twickenham during the Rugby World Cup 2015 but if not there, then Sandy Park as I’m a big Exeter Chiefs fan."
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 Chiefs fly-half Slade admitted that days like that were great for promoting rugby at all levels ahead of Sandy Park hosting Rugby World Cup action this Autumn.
"It was pretty funny to see the shock on Archie’s face, he plays for the same team as one of my cousins so that was cool," he said.
"He was lost for words to start with but then he found his voice and I think he’s going to do a great job as a mascot.
"It’s a really good idea to get the youngsters involved in Rugby World Cup 2015 as much as possible, especially with Sandy Park playing host to games.
"Hopefully Rugby World Cup 2015 can inspire the next generation of players, it’s going to be a hell of an experience for Archie."