RUGBY: England Rugby World Cup mascot Izzy Herron reflects on trip to Japan
Once in a lifetime experience after winning competition with 13-second video
Izzy Herron has been reflecting on how a 13-second video explaining why she wanted to be an England mascot at the Rugby World Cup earned her the experience of a lifetime in Japan.
Ahead of England’s 39-10 win over Argentina in Tokyo, Captain Owen Farrell took Izzy by the hand as she ran onto the pitch with the team.
Watched by thousands in the stadium and millions more on television across the world, the 11-year-old stood alongside the players for the national athems.
“The whole experience from start to finish was fantastic, a once in a lifetime day to remember and I feel very lucky,” said the Rugby High School student. “I was nervous and scared waiting in the tunnel beforehand. I remember I smiled at England coach Eddie Jones as he walked by and he smiled back, but once I was out on the pitch I didn’t really think about it. I could just enjoy it. It was all very loud and the Argentinian anthem was very long! Argentina’s mascot was the son of former New Zealand All Black Isaac Ross.
Izzy and mum Helen had arrived at the stadium much earlier that day for the rehearsals, so she knew just what to expect. It meant they had time to enjoy the fan village, trying all the activities from Japanese calligraphy to making fake food.
In their few days in Japan before the match, they had been able to enjoy the sights of Tokyo, taking in everything from the Shibuya road crossing, a river cruise and light art exhibition to having drinks at a dog cafe, surrounded by the animals. Luckily they had flown home before Typhoon Hagibis struck the country, causing widespread devastation and the cancellation of England's final pool game against France.
The trip all came about after Izzy's Old Laurentians Under 11s team had won a draw to be at Twickenham for the Premiership final at the end of last season. While she was there Izzy entered Land Rover’s mascot competition, recording a video clip with England’s 2003 World Cup winning captain Martin Johnson. “I just said that as I couldn’t play with my team any more I’d like to end my career on a high.”
Izzy joined the Fenley Field club when she was about five, but after school year 6, girls and boys have to separate. “I’d been playing for my team for so long, it wouldn’t be the same to start again,” she said.
Her comments touched the judges and Izzy had a huge surprise back in June when George Ford dropped in to see her at English Martyrs Catholic Primary School, with news of her coveted prize.
But Izzy realises she could so easily have missed out on the unforgettable experience if she hadn’t made the video. “You always think you won’t win, but I was very keen to do it, so maybe that’s a good lesson in life,” she added. “You have to be in it to win it and Japan was amazing.”
They are very grateful to Land Rover who organised the whole trip for them.
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