A Rushden schoolboy could barely contain his delight after being surprised by one of Northampton Saints’ biggest stars with the news that he will be an official Rugby World Cup 2015 mascot.
Rhys Hamber will not have had a better day at South End Junior School than on Monday when his assembly was interrupted by Northampton Saints try-machine George North.
North was there to surprise Hamber with the news that following an audition at the Northampton Saints’ Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup back in February the 10-year-old had been chosen as an official Rugby World Cup 2015 mascot.
Hamber, who plays for Rushden and Higham RFC, 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.
He said: “I was told I had to speak in assembly but then I saw George walk in and I found out I had been picked as a mascot.
“I was so shocked but really excited.
All my friends were cheering when I was announced as the mascot.Rhys Hamber
“George was really nice and said I had been picked after my audition where I had to say what I would say to a captain at a Rugby World Cup.
“I just offered my advice and said play well.
“George is in my top five favourite players.
“I’m a Cardiff Blues fan but I support Wales so it’s great to be able to meet him.
“I reckon I will be really nervous when it comes to the Rugby World Cup but also excited.
“All my friends were cheering when I was announced as the mascot.
“It’s going to be a great honour.”
Land Rover’s search for mascots forms part of its ‘We Deal In Real’ campaign which aims to put grassroots rugby on the global stage during this year’s Rugby World Cup.
And Northampton Saints winger North admitted that days such as Monday were invaluable for helping to promote rugby at all levels.
He said: “It was great to go down and surprise Rhys in assembly.
“I don’t remember my school being as quiet as they were in assembly as I walked in!
“He was a bit stunned, bless him, but I had a good chat with him and I think he will do a great job.
“His audition tape was great and he is a Wales fan too so that’s great for me.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for Rhys, not many people will get the chance to say they have been a mascot.
“With the World Cup, it’s obviously great for the players but also the fans too.
“If we can inspire a few people into rugby, you never know, they could be appearing at a World Cup one day.”
Land Rover is recruiting all 96 Rugby World Cup 2015 official mascots as part of ‘We Deal In Real’, Land Rover’s Rugby World Cup 2015 sponsorship campaign which will champion the people that are the heart and soul of the game by putting grassroots clubs on the global stage.
For more information see @LandRoverRugby #WeDealInReal on Twitter.