The ball teams programme, run by England Rugby 2015 in conjunction with the RFU, invited clubs to nominate young players in recognition of their achievement and their commitment. Their submissions included 250 words on the contribution that their club has made to the local rugby community and why they should be chosen as a ball team for Rugby World Cup 2015.
Chance of a lifetime
The lucky youngsters, who epitomise the values of the game, will be right at the heart of the action at the 13 venues and will have an important role in helping to keep each of the 48 matches flowing by collecting, replacing and delivering balls that have been passed or kicked off the field of play.
The young players selected are from the following Rugby clubs:
- Brighton Community Stadium, Brighton – Lewes RFC
- Elland Road, Leeds – Richmondshire RFC
- Kingsholm Stadium, Gloucester – Gloucester junior academy
- Leicester City Stadium, Leicester – Market Harborough RUFC
- Manchester City Stadium, Manchester – Manchester RFC and Bolton RFC
- Millennium Stadium, Cardiff – current Ball Team made up of players from local clubs
- Sandy Park, Exeter – Exeter Chiefs youth section
- Stadium MK, Milton Keynes – Chesham RFC
- St James' Park, Newcastle – Westoe RFC
- The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London – Hackney Bulls Youth RFC and Eton Manor RFC
- Twickenham Stadium, London – current Ball Team made up of players from local clubs
- Villa Park, Birmingham – Sutton Coldfield RFC
- Wembley Stadium, London – London Scottish RFC
* The Ball Teams for Kingsholm Stadium, Millennium Stadium, Sandy Park and Twickenham Stadium are the ones used on normal rugby match days.
Rugby at heart
England Rugby 2015 Managing Director, Steve Brown, said "We're extremely pleased to announce the young players that have been selected to part of the 13 ball teams at our Rugby World Cup 2015 match venues. Each of them have demonstrated the key attributes important to the role including good coordination, the ability to work as part of a team and have shown commitment to grassroots rugby. This is another great opportunity to involve young people in the tournament and they will play a vital role in helping to ensure that the 48 matches run smoothly.”
Steve Grainger, RFU Development Director, said: "The ball teams will be representing clubs from across the country and it is fantastic that they will be able to play such a pivotal role in Rugby World Cup 2015. This is a tournament that truly has rugby at its heart, and initiatives like this will ensure a lasting legacy for our grassroots clubs. The young players selected have already demonstrated outstanding commitment to their local clubs and deserve this recognition. They, and thousands of young people just like them in grassroots clubs all over England, are the future of our great sport.”
The young players are a mix of boys and girls aged 15 or 16 years old and will work together in teams of 10. They will now undergo a series of training sessions in preparation for the tournament.