Wilkinson and Habana have birthday surprise for RWC final mascot

Boys who missed out because of Typhoon Hagibis will lead out England and South Africa on Saturday.

TOKYO, 28 Oct - Seventh birthdays do not get any better than Jonny Wilkinson and Bryan Habana telling you that you are going to be a Rugby World Cup final mascot - especially when you thought your only chance had been wrecked by Typhoon Hagibis.

Eita Amino admits he cried when Namibia v Canada was called off earlier this month, but on Monday he learned the thrilling news at a training session for 60 children conducted by Wilkinson, Habana and a host of other Rugby World Cup legends in Tokyo.

"I cried on my hotel bed when I found out the first match was called off," he said. "This is the best present. I want to make sure I practise this so I don't do anything wrong."

Eita, pictured above in front of Habana, seemed bemused when he and fellow mascot Hu Ono were called forward to be told they would be leading the teams out at Yokohama on Saturday, asking the Rugby World Cup 2003 winner: "Are you the real Jonny Wilkinson?"

However, he soon revealed a way with words that another of his heroes would surely have approved of. "I am so happy to be on the England side. Eddie Jones is my god."

Eita will be joined by 10-year-old Hu Ono, pictured above between Wilkinson and Habana, who lives in Kamaishi, where the Namibia-Canada match was due to be played at the Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium. Hu will join Siya Kolisi as he leads out the Springboks. 

Hu said: "Now I have got this chance I want to walk out with a big smile on my face, so I really make the most of this opportunity."

Among the legends at the Rugby Introductory Day - helping to teach the girls and boys the rudiments of passing, tackling and kicking - was George Gregan, pictured above with a laughing Wilkinson. Former Japan captain Toshiaki Hirose led the boys in impromptu renditions of the finalists' national anthems, God Save The Queen and Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika.

Habana, the former flying Springbok winger, clearly revelled in the coaching session at the Waseda University Rugby Ground, wrestling with up to 30 children in a rolling maul before sprinting off and challenging them to keep up with him.

Meanwhile, Wilkinson said coaching the children and breaking the news to the two boys was "that lovely it isn't even a job".

He added: "Rugby gives you the chance to live in this space and connect with people. If we tried to sit in front of a classroom and talk to people, it wouldn't work. But you put a ball in everyone's hand and we are all on the same level." 

RNS ns/bo