On a cold November night, rugby fans gathered at Craven Park to watch the second Rugby World Cup game to be played in our great city between Papua New Guinea and Samoa.
Unbeknown to many of the 7000 strong crowd, the organisers of the event had been working all day to ensure that they were entertained throughout the night by various groups from the local community.
ASA had a great part to play in the proceedings because 12 students, from years 7 to 12, had been selected to be flag bearers at the event. Each pupil had been selected as a reward for their achievements representing the academy playing rugby league so as well as being honoured to be representing the academy once again they all had an interest in the outcome of the game.
After leaving the academy for the short journey to Craven Park they arrived at around 16:45 to be greeted by Helen Thackeray, who is the Events Coordinator at Hull City Council who gave an introduction to the security coordinator for the evening. Each student was given a wrist band that they needed to wear at all times, to be able to move freely around the pitch area of the stadium. After a short walk around the pitch the students joined the rest of the entertainment groups which included dancers, player escorts, guards of honour and a fantastic choir in a holding room under the east stand. Each group had a representative from the TV events team (ours was Ricky) with them who liaised with a control room to ensure every group knew what they had to do, when they needed to be at the pitch side and when to be ready to carry out their part of the night’s entertainment. After a quick indoor instruction session the 12 students had a run through of their duties on the pitch under the watchful eye of an event leader; after only their second practice revealing the Rugby World Cup flag he deemed them all naturals and they returned to the holding room for the next 75 minutes (just like one of their lessons!) luckily they were entertained by the dancers and the choir practicing the national anthems of the 2 teams which help pass to time a little quicker for them.
At 19:40 they received the signal from Ricky to get ready and they made their way to the players tunnel to await their instructions and standby to do what they had practiced for real. Each student knew what to do but a few nerves started to surface now it was in front of the live TV cameras and an ever increasing crowd in the stands. With timed precision they got the signal to raise the flag to their shoulders and take their place at the front of the tunnel to wait for the teams to stand behind them. As the music played and the guard of honour took their places the ASA students stepped onto the pitch, heads held high and ran through their duties like experts. They stood tall for the national anthems and did themselves, their parents and the academy proud. They left the pitch, passing the actual world cup which was on display for the evening, and deposited the flag back with their event leader having completed their duties without a hitch and with great pride.
The 12 students; George Batty, Rhys Bryant, Tarik Ciftciogullri, Liam Farmer, Jack Fennel, Harrison Fowler, Brandon Ledger, Connor McMullan, Ryan Teal, Jordan Walker, Connor Young and Phillip Wilkinson were a credit to everyone and they deserved to be selected because of how they had previously represented the academy. Well done boys.