As Saracens prepared to take on Sale Sharks at Allianz Park, the 10 lucky Year 7s became part of official match day proceedings forming a ‘Guard of Honour’ for their rugby heroes with flags while also participating in a special train-on-the-pitch coaching clinic.
The pupils invited to join the special event — known as a Gallagher Game Day — were selected by the school’s Principal, Dr Matthew Stevens, who was himself named in August a ‘Hero of the Game’ by Gallagher as part of its programme to celebrate the ‘off-pitch’ heroes throughout the 2018/19 Gallagher Premiership Rugby season.
Dr Stevens was one of 24 local community heroes — two from each Premiership club — chosen from the wider rugby community for embodying and championing the values and spirit of the game, as well as helping to make rugby a more inclusive and empowering sport.
The Gallagher Game Day held on Saturday 17 November was one of 12 such events the insurance broker and risk management specialist is holding with each of the Premiership Rugby clubs across the course of the 2018/19 season. It provides local Gallagher branches with the chance to invite family, friends, and clients as well as engage with local schools and grass roots rugby representatives to celebrate the partnership as one community. Alongside the ability to get involved in and support community programmes, through its title partnership Gallagher aims to help promote rugby and its values to an even greater audience by ensuring employees and their families can attend matches around the country.
The 10 pupils from Saracens High School became part of the official match day proceedings as flag bearers, forming a ‘Guard of Honour’ as the players ran onto the pitch. They joined 10 additional flag bearers from Cheshunt Rugby Club and children of Gallagher’s guests. A further 12 children were invited from friends and family of Gallagher colleagues and clients to become mascots for the day, standing side-by-side with the first team players before the start of the game.
Saracens High School opened its doors on 6 September 2018 to its first cohort of 156 Year 7 pupils. Believed to be the first mainstream secondary school set up by a professional UK sports club, it is part of Saracens Rugby Club’s long-term commitment to improving society through the power of sport and aims to become a local hub for the neighbourhood as well as an educational establishment, by enabling the community to use its facilities.
Dr Matthew Stevens said: “We were delighted to take part in the Gallagher Game Day and would like to say a huge thank you to Gallagher for inviting us. The pupils relished the opportunity to join their rugby heroes on the pitch. The atmosphere in the stadium at match time was electric and I’m sure this will be an experience the pupils will never forget.”
Commenting on how the school’s educational aspirations are underpinned by rugby values, he added: “Saracens is much more than just a rugby club. It is a place that has a heartbeat, an identity and an unwavering sense of who and what it is. Our school mirrors these traits and our educational approach is underpinned by the core values of Saracens which are discipline, hard work, honesty and humility. The pupils selected to represent Saracens High School as flag bearers really encapsulate these core values.”
The pupils also had the opportunity to take part in a special training session with community coaches from Saracens, whilst other guests were treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of the stadium, as well as a special Q&A session with players.
Patrick O’Connell, Regional Managing Director for London & South Gallagher, said: “Our Gallagher Game Day at Saracens was a fantastic way to bring to life our partnership locally and champion the wider rugby community. We were delighted to welcome our very own ‘community hero’ Dr Stevens and 10 of his Saracens High School pupils in the school’s first year of existence to help create some lasting memories, alongside the young players from Cheshunt Rugby Club and children of Gallagher friends and family.
“As a business, our partnership with Premiership Rugby provides us with a great platform to demonstrate our commitment to the local communities we work in, where every day we enable businesses and individuals to grow, thrive and achieve through helping them protect what matters most to them. That’s why it’s important to partner with schools and clubs in the area, inviting pupils and players to enjoy this experience with us.”
Gallagher’s London City, Luton and Hoddesdon offices are part of a 50-strong customer-focused branch network, serving businesses across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.