Prince Harry high fives school children on rugby visit
Prince Harry met with youngsters during a secondary school visit in Luton (Picture: Arthur Edwards/The Sun/PA)

A smiling Prince Harry hugged and high-fived young players during a secondary school rugby visit today.

Passionate rugby fan Harry dropped by to see students at Lealands High School in Luton to celebrate it becoming the 750th to join the Rugby Football Union (RFU) All Schools programme.

The Duke of Sussex watched around 60 pupils from five local schools take part in touch rugby games and skills sessions before chatting with some of them and their teachers.

At the end of the session 11-year-old Lealands student Zara-Jess Gudza managed to get a hug from the prince.

She beamed: ‘It was just the inspiration, he is so big in this world and he came to this school. It felt crazy to meet someone who is part of the royal family and felt kind of inspirational.’

The Duke of Sussex giving a high five to 11 year old Esther Akiora during a visit the Rugby Football Union All Schools Programme at Lealands High School in Luton. PA Photo. Picture date: Thursday September 12, 2019. The programme was launched to increase the number of secondary state schools playing rugby union, with the aim of introducing 750 additional schools to the game. See PA story ROYAL Harry. Photo credit should read: Arthur Edwards/The Sun/PA Wire
Prince Harry high fives 11-year-old Esther Akiora during the visit (Picture: Arthur Edwards/The Sun/PA)
LUTON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 12: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex receives a hug from Zara Jess Gudza as he meets pupils during his visit to The Rugby Football Union All Schools Programme at Lealands High School on September 12, 2019 in Luton, England. HRH is the Patron of the Rugby Football Union. (Photo by Arthur Edwards - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
The Duke of Sussex receives a hug from Zara Jess Gudza (Picture: Arthur Edwards/The Sun/PA)
The Duke of Sussex meets pupils during a visit the Rugby Football Union All Schools Programme at Lealands High School in Luton. PA Photo. Picture date: Thursday September 12, 2019. The programme was launched to increase the number of secondary state schools playing rugby union, with the aim of introducing 750 additional schools to the game. See PA story ROYAL Sussex. Photo credit should read: Arthur Edwards/The Sun/PA Wire
The prince met pupils during a visit to Lealands High School in Luton (Picture: Arthur Edwards/The Sun/PA)
LUTON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 12: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex meets pupils during his visit to The Rugby Football Union All Schools Programme at Lealands High School on September 12, 2019 in Luton, England. HRH is the Patron of the Rugby Football Union. (Photo by Arthur Edwards - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Harry is the Patron of the Rugby Football Union (Picture: Arthur Edwards/The Sun/PA)

Prince Harry met teachers and students from Lealands and four other local schools on the programme: Challney Boys School, The Chiltern Academy, Lea Manor High School and Stopsley High School.

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Freddie Theron, 11, from Stopsley High School, took part in the activities and even handed the duke an invite to a barbecue at his house.

He said: ‘It was incredible.

‘I just can’t believe he actually came to watch rugby, I am so glad to be picked to meet him.

‘I gave him an invitation to a barbecue at my house. He didn’t read it but said he would read it later.’

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Harry, who became patron of the All Schools programme in 2013, also met representatives from Denbigh High School and Rokeby High School which are alumni of the programme.

He trained as an assistant development officer with the RFU as part of his gap year in 2004, and once qualified went out to schools and clubs around the country assisting community rugby coaches to teach the game to young people.

The duke, who has travelled the world supporting the national side, was in Sydney in 2003 to watch England triumph over Australia in the Rugby World Cup final.

He succeeded his grandmother the Queen to become the new patron of the RFU in 2017.

Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex poses for a picture with children as he visits the Rugby Football Union (RFU) All Schools programme at Lealands High School in Luton, Britain September 12, 2019. Arthur Edwards/Pool via REUTERS
The smiling duke poses for a picture with children during the visit (Picture: Arthur Edwards/Reuters)

The RFU said more than 10,500 students have joined a local rugby club from the All Schools programme, which was launched in 2012 as a Rugby World Cup 2015 legacy initiative to increase the number of state secondary schools playing the game.

Its CEO, Bill Sweeney, said: ‘We are immensely proud that the Duke of Sussex was able to help us celebrate reaching the 750th milestone target for this programme.

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‘It is great that we had the opportunity to include the pupils and teachers from a new cluster of schools, along with two schools who have graduated from the programme, and their link clubs.

‘Rugby is a sport for all and, through the All Schools programme, a positive legacy has been created for children in 750 schools in England through rugby and its core values, making school life happier and healthier, reducing anti-social behaviour, enhancing learning and increasing self-esteem.’

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