<1R>One of Stuart Abbott's last acts for Harlequins, before he was forced into early retirement through injury, was to open a new rugby pitch at Ashcombe School (Friday, 19th October) with Quins team mate Alex Rogers.
The two Quins players were also joined by Maggie Alphonsi (International Rugby Board's Women's Personality of the Year in 2006 & Saracens) as they ran a coaching session for Year 7 pupils, and then Maggie opened the new pitch and posts with a drop goal! Ashcombe Year 8 boys then played Therfield, whilst others trained. The pupils really appreciated the chance to meet top-class players, pick up some tips and get some autographs.
Maggie's appearance was arranged through Sporting Champions, a Sport England initiative, which brings world-class athletes face-to-face with young people to inspire and motivate them to participate in sport.
Stuart and Alex's participation came through the school's close links with Dorking Rugby Club, whose Chairman Sean Grady made contact with Harlequins. They were delighted to be sent Stuart Abbott and Alex Rogers who were on hand to coach and answer the students numerous questions. Harlequins continue to show their commitment and support to 'grass-roots' rugby by allowing first team squad members to work with local schools.
Headteacher Mr David Blow said: 'The passion for rugby here supported by the new rugby pitch is leading to high involvement. To see so many pupils playing sport after-school on a Friday, along with parents spectating, is a great tribute to the enthusiasm and drive of the P.E. Dept. Perhaps one of those playing today, will be appearing in the 2015 World Cup!'
Andy Leane (Dorking Schools Sport Co-ordinator) and Christian Hooker (Head of P.E.) arranged the event. Andy said: 'The new facility is a great boost in a term when our Year 8 boys won the Guildford 10's tournament without conceding a try'
During week commencing 22nd April Harlequins will launch an innovative, new Membership Scheme which will replace the existing Season Ticket Holder Programme. Further details of the scheme will be announced in due course.