For the first time in his week long career as a British & Irish Lion, Scottish full back Stuart Hogg wasn’t the youngest player at training.
Instead, the 20-year-old keeper of BIL, the cuddly Lion mascot, was usurped by 23 HSBC Cubs, youngsters from around the British Isles who were given the once in a lifetime chance to train with the 2013 Lions at their Vale of Glamorgan camp.
Principal Partners HSBC were responsible for providing the opportunity to the school children from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales to take part in the training day. Referees at regional mini-rugby festivals, supported by HSBC, selected the youngsters.for demonstrating the core values of rugby – teamwork, courage, fair play and integrity.
The lucky children, aged between seven and 13, spent the morning with their heroes and learned about what it means to play for the Lions and what it takes to make it as a professional rugby player. Then they got the chance to show off their skills on the training field.
“It’s great to be able to take time out from our preparations for the tour to meet these boys and girls. We had a good run-around with them and I think we were all impressed by the skills on display,” said Hogg.
“It’s great to be able to support the grassroots of the sport, they are the future and I hope they all went away from today with fond memories and encouragement to carry on playing rugby.”
Seven-year-old Florence Jeffcock, the youngest HSBC Cub, who took part in the Cambridge RUFC mini-rugby festival in April, enjoyed one of the best days of her life.
“I never in my life imagined I would have the chance to play with the Lions. It has been an amazing day, one that I will never forget. I was so nervous before meeting them but we got right into the rugby and then I just enjoyed myself,” she said.
As part of their sponsorship of the British & Irish Lions, HSBC has been partnering with youth rugby festivals across the British Isles in support of grassroots rugby. The HSBC Cubs represent the culmination of HSBC’s pre-tour, grassroots support that has seen more than 8,000 children involved in festivals and coaching days in all four nations.