Rugby World Cup: Rhys’ big day out with Scotland in Lille at the showpiece event

Gary Heatly

Kirkcaldy RFC youngster Rhys Edwards is very excited ahead of the weekend because he is heading to France to be the mascot for the Scotland men’s national team when they take on Romania in the crucial Rugby World Cup match on Saturday.

The nine-year-old primary five pupil from Burntisland Primary School is rugby mad and loves playing on a Sunday for the Kirkcaldy Mini section which is known as the Wee Blues.

When not pulling on his boots and playing, Rhys is more than likely watching rugby or talking about the sport and his favourite Scotland players are back-row Hamish Watson and winger Darcy Graham.

On Saturday he will live out his dream by running out with the Scotland matchday squad ahead of their Pool C match in the 50,000 capacity Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille.

He will then belt out the national anthem standing in front of the captain on the day before heading into the stand to watch the match with his dad Gareth from one of the best seats in the house.

So, how did this amazing opportunity come about for the youngster?

“The ‘Defenders of Tomorrow’ mascot programme run by World Rugby and Land Rover aims to inspire future generations to effect meaningful change on and off the pitch,” dad Gareth explained.

“A wee while ago Stuart Oliver from Kirkcaldy rugby club wrote a piece about Rhys and all that he does at the rugby club such as playing for the Wee Blues, being a ball boy at veterans’ games and just generally helping out as he is so passionate about the sport.

“We didn’t know about it, but Stuart then sent that piece is as part of an entry on behalf of Rhys and things just went from there. He got through the first round and for the second round Rhys himself had to supply some more information about himself and his passion for rugby.

“As a family we were just over the moon that Stuart had started that process off for us and when he called us and told us that Rhys had been successful and was going to be a mascot at a World Cup match in France we just could not believe it.

“We then got a note through to say that it would be the Scotland versus Romania and Rhys was just made up, he was so excited.

“He has been talking about it ever since and all his school friends and his pals from the Wee Blues are really excited for him and are looking forward to watching him on the TV.

“I’m sure I might be quite emotional on the day, but Rhys will probably take it all in his stride and he just can’t wait.”

Rhys and Gareth will be flying to Paris tomorrow (Thursday) and will then get the train up to Lille.

They will have time to explore the city on Friday before heading to the stadium a few hours before kick-off on Saturday for rehearsals and then the big game.

This weekend also happens to be an important one in Kirkcaldy’s 150th anniversary celebrations with the men’s first team hosting Aberdeen Grammar on Saturday at 3pm and loads of other things going on too.

“It means that lots of people will likely be in the clubhouse at Beveridge Park on Saturday evening, so it’ll be nice that they’ll be all together when Rhys pops up on the screen,” Gareth added.

“Kirkcaldy is a very welcoming club, a great community club and Rhys and the family enjoy spending time down there. It’s going to a special weekend for the club and a special weekend for Rhys – it should be a cracker.”

The Scotland-Romania Pool B match on Saturday night kicks-off at 8pm UK time and will be live on ITV with Scotland needing a bonus point win to keep their hopes of a quarter-final spot alive.

If, as expected, they are victorious, they will have a massive final Pool match against Ireland on October 7 in Paris.

Any youngsters wanting to give Wee Blues rugby a try at Kirkcaldy RFC, training is on every Sunday at 10am at Beveridge Park – more info is available via the Wee Blues Facebook page

A version of this article first appeared in The Courier hard copy on September 30