Famous names visit The Close

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SCHOOLBOYS at the Home of the Game have been learning from the best. On Friday Aviva Premiership title challengers Saracens trained on The Close and on Monday it was the turn of former Leicester and England scrum half Harry Ellis to work with all the school’s half backs.

It follows the visit of Sir Clive Woodward to give the annual Arnold Lecture and England World Cup hero Will Greenwood at the National Prep School Barbarians finals last month.

And the school’s cricketers have also enjoyed a batting masterclass from England legend Graham Gooch.

Earlier this season a small group of Saracens players and officials had enjoyed a visit and session coaching the boys and returned last week with the whole squad.

This time pupils Sam Pointon and Lee Melotti were lucky enough to receive some individual coaching.

School XV scrum half Sam, 17, said: “It’s been very exciting for us to have Saracens here. Working with Richard Wigglesworth was a very good experience.”

Sam, who played England U16s last year and had an U18s trial a year early added: “He was coaching me on scrum-half technique, helping me with passing and how to get the ball away quickly from a ruck. We were also working on kicking technique and he was passing on his experience about what works best.”

Playing scrum half is something of a Pointon tradition shared with two brothers and a cousin.

England Saxons scrum half Wigglesworth said the players had enjoyed their morning on The Close and were looking forward to their tour of the school in the afternoon.

“It’s a very impressive place and it’s good to come to the ground where it all started,” he said. “The facilities are excellent and the pitch is better than we train on!” he said. “We had a practice match which should help us prepare for our big game against Newcastle next Sunday.”

n British Lion Harry Ellis, capped 27 times for England, was forced to retired from the game in July after a knee injury.

Visiting Rugby on Monday he said: “It’s fantastic coming to such a great school. I used to come here to play with England Schoolboys.

“I’m a student at Loughborough College doing a degree in sports science now, so all this voluntary coaching is good development experience for me as I’d like to go into teaching. It’s a privilege for me to be here. We were working on handling skills today. There are some really good lads, who are England players of the future.

“I do miss playing a bit, but I want to stay involved in rugby and can gain a lot of satisfaction from giving something back.”

Ellis, 28, is again giving his coaching services free at two Rugby Sports Academy residential camps for 10-15 year-olds at The Close from August 2-5 and 9-12. In return Rugby School Enterprises will make a donation to the Matt Hampson Foundation.

See www.rugbyschool.net/ commercial or call (01788) 556281 for more details.