Magical day for rugby mascots

THREE young Downend rugby fans had an experience of a lifetime when they stepped onto the Twickenham turf as England mascots.

Ella Sackett-Lloyd, Megan Race and Sam Race accompanied England players Alex Mitchell, Maro Itoje and Tommy Freeman respectively as the national side took to the field for the Six Nations clash with Wales on February 10.

They then sat close to the pitch as England came from behind to win the game 16-14. 

Stanbridge Primary School Year 4 pupil Megan, aged eight, and Sam, 11, who is in Year 7 at Downend, were invited by the RFU Injured Players Foundation.

The England Rugby official charity has supported their dad, Mike, since he suffered a serious brain injury in January last year while playing for Mangotsfield-based Cleve RFC. 

Both Sam and Megan play for Cleve, Sam in the under-12s and Megan for the Under-9s.

Cleve RFC Minis & Junior chairman Mark Hutton said: “The IPF have been by Mike’s side throughout his recovery and rehabilitation, and without their support, Mike would not have made the recovery he has.

“He has been able to return to work and back onto the touchline, as a coach with the Under-9s at Cleve.”

Seven-year-old Ella, who is in Year 3 at Stanbridge, won the opportunity through a competition organised by sponsors O2, entered by her brother Trai.

Ella’s mum Caroline Sackett said: “Ella has always loved rugby, both messing around in the park and as a spectator.

“She absolutely adored the game. The seats were right behind the subs’ bench so they were right there in the thick of it.

“It was a total surprise when she got there to see Megan, who she knows from school, with her brother.”

The mascots were given England kits and greeted the players off the team bus, as they headed to the changing rooms. 

They were then allowed pitch-side during the warm-up, when they got to spend time with some of the players. 

Mark said: “The absolute highlight was walking out with the players onto the pitch.

“As the noise died down, they all took their place on the pitch to proudly sing the National Anthem and then a tense 80 minutes of rugby followed, as England eventually overcame their Welsh opponents.

“This was an incredible experience for the children and their families, one that will live long in the memory and keep beaming smiles on their faces for some time to come.”

For more information about the Injured Players Foundation, visit