A Winscombe school pupil could barely contain his delight after being surprised by a certain Bath Rugby star and Land Rover ambassador George Ford with the news that he will be an official Rugby World Cup 2015 mascot.
Jack Lewis will not have had a better day at Winscombe Primary School than on Tuesday when his lesson was interrupted by Ford, who is widely regarded as one of the finest players of his generation.
He was there to surprise Lewis with the news that, following an audition at the Bath Rugby Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup back in October, the 11-year-old had been chosen as an official Rugby World Cup 2015 mascot.
Lewis, who plays for Winscombe RFC Under-11s, 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.
“I was just so excited when I found out I had been picked to be a mascot,” said Lewis. “I was in class at the time and when the head teacher came in I thought I was in trouble to start with but then I saw George Ford.
“He gave me a Rugby World Cup 2015 ball with his signature on, and I just thought it was a present as I was at Bath’s game last week and his autograph was the only one I didn’t manage to get.
“But then he told me I had been picked. He’s my favourite Bath player so I was so pleased to meet him.
“I remember I had to sing the national anthem to the camera for my audition. I don’t think I can sing really well but at the end I apologised to my dad as he is Welsh and I’d sung the English anthem.
“I support England though; I think they can do really well at the Rugby World Cup. I just hope that I don’t trip up or anything when I run on!”
Land Rover’s search for mascots forms part of their ‘We Deal In Real’ campaign that aims to put grassroots rugby on the global stage during this year’s Rugby World Cup.
Ford admitted that days such as Tuesday were invaluable for helping to promote rugby at all levels.
“It is a big responsibility for Jack but I think he will do a great job. He seems like a confident young man, he’s friendly and he will take it very seriously,” he said. “It will probably stick with him for the rest of his life.
“It’s a great idea to get the children involved in Rugby World Cup 2015 as mascots. It’s getting them excited about Rugby World Cup 2015 and sport in general.
“Having a Rugby World Cup in England is huge, not just for the players but for the fans around the country. It’s a chance to inspire them.”
Forty eight official Rugby World Cup mascot places have been given to children taking place in the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cups, a series of grassroots rugby festivals run by the 12 Premiership Rugby clubs.