It's been couple of years since I last went to the O2 Scrum In The Park, and it was good to see another event advertised this year, so the public could meet the squad and give them a good sendoff to the Rugby World Cup.
There were all sorts of events going on during the afternoon, such as Meet the Players to get autographs, training sessions for kids with the team, face painting, competitions etc. It's great to be interested in a sport where the players are so accessible - I can't see it happening with the England football team any time soon! I did feel a bit sorry for Jonny Wilkinson [left], who was inevitably the centre of attention - he needed about 5 minders to keep the groupies away! He seemed to be bearing it with remarkable good grace, however.
Other players who I saw pottering about included the midfielders Jamie Noon, Matthew Tait, and Andy Farrell (who also seemed popular with the autograph hunters).
Prop Matt Stevens and second row Steve Borthwick [right] were putting the kids through their paces at rucking practice. A tad unfair since they could probably both have lifted up the kids with one hand, and were trying to get them to lever 110Kg of Forward off the ball!
Entertainment was provided by a marching band, looking splendid in their Dress Reds and enormous Busbies. I wasn't entirely convinced by the Gospel Choir, mind you. Although they were much better than the crowd at singing Swing Low!
At least the Sign For England bus was a success - a double-decker where you could sign your message of support to the boys, all over the outside:
[my contribution on the side of the Sign For England bus]
The finale was a little bit of a letdown - the team were paraded onto the pitch and stood under the posts whilst Austin Healey quizzed Brian Ashton and Phil Vickery. Then they sang Swing Low and fired a load of streamers at the team:
[the England boys attempt to unravel themselves from the red and white streamers]
Would have been nice if they'd let them have a final lap round the pitch to wave to the spectators, but they were ushered off again quite quickly. Oh, well - I'll see them on Saturday in Lens! Can't believe my RWC trip has come round so quickly. You can see the rest of my photos from this year's Scrum In The Park.