Perfect birthday present for Sam

PUBLISHED: 13:37 01 June 2006 | UPDATED: 14:42 12 May 2010

Sam Copeland with England legend Lawrence Dallaglio

Sam Copeland with England legend Lawrence Dallaglio

NINE-YEAR-OLD rugby fanatic Sam Copeland, of Royston, got the birthday surprise of a lifetime last weekend, by playing alongside a star studded line-up. Sam who attends Icknield Walk School joined more than 200 youngsters at the World XV coaching day at

NINE-YEAR-OLD rugby fanatic Sam Copeland, of Royston, got the birthday surprise of a lifetime last weekend, by playing alongside a star studded line-up.

Sam who attends Icknield Walk School joined more than 200 youngsters at the World XV coaching day at Old Albanians Rugby club.

At the St Albans-based club, he took part in a series of coaching sessions with some of the greatest names in modern rugby who passed on their wealth of experience.

Coaches included New Zealand hot shots Carlos Spencer and Justin Marshall, Australian ace Joe Roff, former Wales head coach Mike Ruddock, and ex-England captain Lawrence Dallaglio.

Sam's mum Claire Copeland said: "Sam is rugby mad and dreams of playing for England one day, just like his favourite player, Lawrence Dallaglio.

"So to get to meet one of his heroes was a dream come true.

"The players couldn't have been more friendly towards the kids, and they gave the impression that they genuinely enjoyed being part of the day."

The surprise came just days after Sam, who plays mini rugby for Royston, celebrated his ninth birthday.

He was asked to attend by Saracens Rugby Club who sponsor Royston Rugby Club's mini rugby programme.

Sam's day consisted of watching the World XV train and then learning from them in a series of training activities that focused on different aspects of the game, such as contact, agility, and awareness.

Claire said: "He learned lots of new skills and got to play with all these famous players. He has only ever seen them on television, so to see them in the flesh was unbelievable for him.

"Sam was in complete awe of the players, and couldn't get over how big they were.

"He learned so much and really enjoyed the experience. He's been talking about it ever since, which shows how much fun he had."

The fun did not stop for Sam, as the following day, accompanied by dad Justin, he travelled down to Vicarage Road, Watford, to watch the World XV take on Saracens, in a fundraising match.

The proceeds of the game went to the Wooden Spoon Society, Anthony Nolan Trust, and the Saracens Foundation.

Preparations the previous day obviously worked, as the World XV ran out 64-14 winners.


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