Prince Harry took some time out from wedding planning to meet with one of the UK’s largest inclusive rugby clubs: the Manchester Village Spartans.
According to Pink News, four Spartans were on hand to represent the charity Try For Change, which seeks to use the power of the rugby union to improve the lives of disadvantaged and marginalized people in England and across the world.
The Spartans were one of only three groups selected to meet with Prince Harry, who they chatted up about their club.
According to the team’s website:
Upon being introduced to a friendly and encouraging HRH Prince Harry, we discussed our club history as one of the world’s first gay rugby clubs; Our shared passion for rugby; Our club ambitions to help increase the number of young people engaging in Rugby Union from within our local straight and LGBT communities and; The personal impact the “Try For Change” project and rugby has had on players.
Shortly after, we followed the Royal entourage down the Twickenham tunnel to the stands and joined Prince Harry in watching the England squad’s open training session, in front of a 10,000 crowd of spectators made up of grassroots clubs from across the UK.
Pink News quotes Gareth Longley, a Try For Change project coach at Manchester Village Spartans, as saying, “To be able to chat with HRH Prince Harry about our history as one of the world’s first gay and inclusive rugby clubs; the huge growth in International Gay Rugby that we passionately support and how positive an impact inclusive rugby can have on the mental and physical health of players from within our gay community was a truly valued and unique opportunity.”
After the meeting, the Spartans, along with Prince Harry, watched the England International squad’s open training session in the stands.
Said Longley, “Prince Harry’s passion and enthusiasm for the game was abundant throughout our ten-minute chat.”
It was so motivating to be part of a gay rugby team chatting to such an important member of the British Royal Family and being encouraged to help other LGBT and straight members of our communities give rugby a try. To receive such generous funding, support and active encouragement from the bosses and superstars of rugby makes us feel really valued and positive about the future of LGBT engagement in rugby.
Longley continued, saying the visit was “a masterclass to other sporting bodies in being proactive about inclusivity and getting more players from LGBT communities to fear less and try team sport.”
Over the past few years, Prince Harry and his brother William have helped to shatter the decades-long Royal silence on LGBT issues, speaking to their mother’s legacy on AIDS/HIV issues. Last October, Prince Harry collected a posthumous award from gay lifestyle magazine Attitude on behalf of Princess Diana.