Eagles Player Jack D writes about Downing Street

My trip to 10 Downing Street by Eagles U11 Player Jack D.

My name is Jack D and I, along with a number of my Elmbridge Eagles teammates, were invited to give an exhibition of rugby league at 10 Downing Street on 8 November. We performed for a meeting of delegates from each of the 32 countries participating in the Rugby League World Cup and there were representatives from the men’s game, women’s game and wheel-chair game as well as cabinet ministers and international dignitaries.

This was a once in a lifetime opportunity and, in the run-up to the exhibition, the excitement was palpable. We could sense that something special was about to happen, but unsure exactly what that would be. There was exuberant singing, non-stop chatter and excited antics on the coach to number 10 (I was the loudest!)

We were greeted by the armed police at the front gate and after a quick ‘hello’ we were escorted through security where we put our kit bags through security. We were then welcomed to number 10 by the deputy prime minister, Dominic Raab, and had our picture taken with him. 

Eagles outside Downing Street with the Rt. Hon. Dominic Raab MP

We were then given a tour of number 10!  Unfortunately, for security reasons, we were unable to take phones or cameras into main building so there are no pictures of our time inside.  However, we were given an excellent tour by Luke (the house-keeper for the past 30 years) and learned that 10 Downing Street is a working building, with over 320 people working there each day.

We saw the staircase which has signed pictures of each Prime Minister on the walls. There is one of each PM, except for Winston Churchill, who has two pictures; one for his term in office and another for his great efforts during world War II.

We were shown into one of the entertaining rooms and asked to guess how much the paintings on the walls were worth. After several guesses ranging from £10,000 to £100 million, we were put out of our guessing misery. There are two paintings by Turner that are estimated to be worth c.£44 million!

We saw lots of other amazing things too and then we were brought to the state dining room, where we dropped our bags and got ready to play some rugby!

The session itself went really quickly.  The coaches took us through a quick warm-up, then we did some exercises on the tackle-bags and a range of other rugby drills. All the time, we were being watched and applauded by the delegates representing their countries.

It was brilliant!!!!

We also met a few famous players, including Jason Robinson, who was representing England.  We got to chat to Jason. Did you know he represented England playing both codes of rugby – Rugby League and Rugby Union? And he’s the only Englishman to have scored a try in the Rugby Union World cup final? He was really friendly and he said he was impressed with our rugby skills!

Here’s a picture of me and two teammates with rugby legend, Jason Robinson!

Me and my teammates with cross code Rugby Legend Jason Robinson

Later, after the rugby, the catering team provided us with a picnic lunch (with amazing chocolate brownies – I got 2!) which we ate while sat at the state dining room table. This a surreal experience. Just imagine eating your sandwiches around the table where countless heads of state, Presidents, Kings and Queens have eaten state banquets! How good is that? I bet not many people get to do that!

Did you know the wood panelling was designed by Sir John Sloane? His designs are famous for their symmetrical appearance. He takes that seriously and some of the doors aren’t entrances or exits! Here’s a picture of that room taken from the internet! It’s incredible!

We also got to see the Trophies. Here’s a picture of Elmbridge Eagles representatives with the women’s trophy (LHS), men’s trophy (centre) and wheel-chair trophy (RHS) respectively. You may be able to spot some SHS old-boys in this picture too, who also play at Elmbridge Eagles in the u12!

Elmbridge Eagles Players with the Rugby League World Cup Trophies

And here’s a picture with all of the Rugby League delegates. I’m right at the front and centre, kneeling.   Our kit is blue but we were given red or yellow sweatshirts as a memento of the day and you can see these in the pictures.  

Elmbridge Eagles meet VIPs from the world of Rugby League and the Government

I’m rugby mad and I joined Elmbridge Eagles to play Rugby League in the summer, as well as playing Rugby Union in the winter at Old Cranleighans.    Elmbridge Eagles is a brilliant club. It’s always looking for new players to play Rugby League. I’ve had some amazing experiences with them, including this trip, and later that month, I also got to be a mascot at the RLWC semi-final at the Emirates Stadium – but that’s another story for another day! If you’d like more information about rugby league at Elmbridge Eagles please email admin@elmbridgerl.com.