The athletic Duchess of Cambridge, today, became the patron of the Rugby Football League and the Rugby Football Union. It has been speculated for a long time that naturally sporty Catherine is the top choice for sports patronage. The RFL and RFU are the national governing bodies that develop and promote the sport in the country.
To mark the new beginning The Duchess of Cambridge joined a rugby training session at Twickenham Stadium where she met England players, coaches, and referees. About the new patronage, Kensington Palace said,
The patronage, which has been given to The Duchess by Her Majesty The Queen, closely aligns with Her Royal Highness’ long-standing passion for sport and the lifelong benefits it can provide, both within our communities and on an individual level. The RFL was established in 1895 and is the national body for Rugby League in the UK, a game for 13 players to a team.
A very interesting tidbit about this new patronage is that The Royal household has three patrons of the same sport but for three different nations – The Duke of Cambridge is the patron of Welsh Rugby Union, Princess Royal Anne is the patron of Scottish Rugby Union and now the Duchess of Cambridge has become the patron of English Rugby League and Union.
It would be very interesting to see all three royals cheering up three different teams at the upcoming Six Nations league that is set to take place later this month. Possibly, William and Catherine will be cheering opposite teams at the Twickenham Stadium on February 26th.
The Rugby unions were Her Majesty’s patronage until 2016. In 2016, Prince William became the patron of the Welsh union and Prince Harry became the patron of the English Union. In 2020, after Prince Harry’s departure from the official role, it has been reported for a long time that the rugby patronage will go to The Duchess of Cambridge. Announcing the patronage today, The Duchess wrote on Social media,
“I am so thrilled to become Patron of the Rugby Football League and Rugby Football Union – two fantastic organizations who are committed to harnessing the power that sport can have in bringing communities together and helping individuals flourish. I look forward to working with them across all levels of the games, and to cheering England on in what promises to be an exciting year for both sports! C”.
In a small video shared by the Palace, in which The Duchess of Cambridge and three England Rugby League players; Jodie Cunningham (St Helens), Harry Newman (Leeds Rhinos) and James Simpson (Leeds Rhinos), and three representatives from the Rugby Football Union are passing the ball to each other.
During the visit, The Duchess of Cambridge was shown into Twickenham Stadium by women’s captain Sarah Hunter and men’s captain Courtney Lawes, who was today ruled out of this weekend’s match due to injury. She spoke to members of the England squad about their opening Six Nations match against Scotland on Saturday. The Duchess of Cambridge also spoke to members of the women’s team ahead of their Six Nations tournament and World Cup in New Zealand later this year and heard about how the pandemic has impacted the sport over the past two years. She then joined the players for a skills session on the pitch, run by Head England Coach Eddie Jones.
Welcoming the Duchess to the club, RFU CEO Bill Sweeney, said, “It is a great honor to welcome The Duchess of Cambridge as our Patron. Our aim is to enrich lives, introduce more people to rugby union, develop the sport for future generations and create a successful thriving game across the country. As rugby clubs have re-opened across the country, players, officials, and volunteers are celebrating being back in the game together, and we know the support of The Duchess will be greatly valued from our grassroots clubs and fast-growing women and girls’ game, right up to our elite Men’s and Women’s England teams.”
The Rugby Football League’s CEO Ralph Rimmer said, “We are truly honored by the appointment of The Duchess of Cambridge as the Rugby Football League’s Royal Patron. We are delighted to welcome her as we prepare to host Men’s, Women’s, Wheelchair, and Physical Disability Rugby League World Cups in England this autumn. Our sport’s history has been built on a commitment to tackling inequalities and we honor that through our focus on having a positive social impact well beyond the pitch. We look forward to working with The Duchess in the years to come, and I know all levels of our sport will welcome her to the Rugby League family.”
England will host the Rugby League World Cup this autumn after it was postponed in 2021, Jon Dutton, Chief Executive of RLWC 2021 reacted to the news of Rugby Football League’s new Patron by saying: “We welcome the announcement of The Duchess of Cambridge as the Rugby Football League’s Royal Patron 256 days before the Rugby League World Cup 2021 commences. We very much look forward to showcasing our collective approach to social impact and inclusivity to the Duchess, as we continue on our journey to deliver the biggest and best Rugby League World Cup in history”.
Before leaving, The Duchess was presented with mini England rugby kits for her three children Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis. Rugby was a big part of Catherine’s sporty childhood. In 2014, writing for Vanity Fair, Pippa Middleton, Catherine’s younger sister revealed her family’s love for the sport,
“Rugby was a big thing for our family, and the focal point was international matches, which were often played on Saturday afternoons and were as much social as sporting occasions. We’d plan our weekends around the big matches, a quick bite to eat at halftime or lunch on our laps, typically a chicken pot pie or something equally cozy and English. If we lost, my dad would be in a state of despair for the rest of the afternoon, as if he’d actually lost the game himself.”
During the practice session, The Duchess revealed that Prince George is playing rugby and netball at the school while Prince Louis is a kamikaze player – in the middle of everything.
For the day, The Duchess of Cambridge donned the Rugby kit. She was wearing an Umbro half-zipped upper with matching drill pants. The ensemble has England Rugby Insignia Red rose embroidered on one side of both upper and lower.
Update: The Duchess was wearing Adidas Malice Elite Soft Ground boots in core black/signal pink/crystal white. Thanks to Polka Popp for the id. The £55 boots were described as, “Build for the backs, The Adidas predator Malice Elite Soft Ground rugby boots are perfect for players who want to showcase their speed and kicking accuracy”.
She was wearing her Astley Clarke Round Stilla Lapis Lazuli Pendant Necklace. Thanks to the House of Windsor on Twitter for catching that.
In the video released by the Palace, The Duchess of Cambridge is wearing a Sweaty Betty Athlete Hooded Long Sleeve Top. Thanks to Regalreplikate for the id. The £60 top versatile long-sleeved gym top features a seamless high-stretch design with breathable mesh panels, a slim fit with a close-fitting hood to keep the wind out. The top is currently available in 4 different colors. She paired it with Nike track pants.
In other news, a team from Kensington Palace was spotted on Belize’s largest island, Ambergris Caye, last week. It is being speculated that the advance party was there to make preparation for The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s Platinum Jubilee tour of the Caribbean. The Queen is the head of the state of Belize, while William trained with the Welsh Guards regiment in the Central American country in 2000. If the reports are accurate then we can expect William and Catherine to embark on their first-ever Caribbean tour this spring sometime.