By Jill Dando News
Awesome Ava, 9, walks England rugby team out before watching Twickenham spectacular see them beat world champions in final minutes.
Awesome Ava 9, was mascot at an incredibly historic world rugby match at Twickenham – 115 years since the debut of the first ever black England player Jimmy Peters and 17 years since Jason Robinson became the first Black captain of the England rugby union team.
Ava, a pupil of the brilliant Pawlett Primary School Academy in Somerset, part of The Priory Learning Trust, then got to see an incredible game of rugby alongside the grandson of Jimmy Peters and the son of Jason Robinson.
She watched on as England outfoxed and outfought 2019 Rugby World Cup final conquerors South Africa in front of a rapturous Twickenham crowd.
She saw England star Marcus Smith hold his nerve to slot the decisive penalty in the 79th minute.
Earlier, in an emotional touch for the watching millions, Ava lead the team out and her name and photo was put onto the giant screen inside the stadium.
Rugby loving Ava has played the sport since the age of 6 at Burnham-on-sea RFC.http://www.burnhamonsearfc.org
Dad Dave who was at the game along with wife Becky and Ava’s brother Ronnie, said: “Ava was super excited for days and I think could have been the proudest person ever to be a mascot.
“For her to witness such a nailbiting finish and a heroic England victory against the world champions was the icing on the cake.”
School Principal Emma Barker said: “Ava is an outstanding and enthusiastic pupil and our whole school community are super thrilled at her once in a lifetime experience.”
Lisa Dadds, Deputy Head of School Improvement at TPLT, who watched the match in the stadium, said: “It was a tremendous match and so great to see Ava‘s name and photo on the giant screen as the stadium filled up.”
The most historic game for decades celebrated England’s first ever black rugby union player Jimmy Peters who made his debut in 1906.
History maker Jimmy also represented Ava’s residence of Somerset as a rugby player between 1900 and 1903.
History was made again in 2004, when Jason became the first Black captain of the England rugby union team.
Jimmy Peters had a remarkable life. From his Jamaican circus showman father being mauled to death by a lion, to his abandonment, to representing his country and then ultimately being banned by his sport, there is a huge story to tell.
As the first black man to play rugby union for England, between 1906 and 1908, he was a pioneer.
But Peters sadly did not pave the way for other black players – it was 80 years before a black player would wear the red rose again.
Jason was known as Billy Whizz because of his speed on the pitch.
Playing as a wing or fullback he won 51 rugby union international caps for England. https://pawlettprimaryschool.co.uk
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