Prince Harry, formally known as Prince Henry of Wales, has always been an active and outdoorsy royal. One of his enduring passions is his love for rugby. Over the years, Prince Harry has not only been an enthusiastic supporter of the sport but has also actively engaged in rugby-related events, played the game himself, and used his royal influence to promote the sport. In this article, we’ll delve into Prince Harry’s journey with rugby, from his early years as a schoolboy player to his impactful role as a patron and advocate for the sport.
Early Years on the Rugby Field
Prince Harry’s connection to rugby can be traced back to his school days. He attended Eton College, where he joined the school’s rugby team and actively participated in the sport. He played in various positions and was known for his competitive spirit and physicality on the field.
Rugby, often considered a sport that embodies teamwork and camaraderie, was an ideal platform for the young Prince to learn valuable life skills. His experiences on the rugby field fostered qualities of discipline, leadership, and resilience, all of which he would carry with him throughout his life.
Continuing the Rugby Tradition at Sandhurst
Prince Harry’s passion for rugby extended into his time at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, where he trained to become an officer in the British Army. During his military training, he continued to play rugby as a part of the academy’s team. His commitment to the sport highlighted his determination to excel in all aspects of his training, even in the face of the rigorous demands of military life.
Playing for the Army
After graduating from Sandhurst, Prince Harry served in the British Army for over a decade, actively participating in rugby events within the military community. He played for the Army Air Corps rugby team, a unit of the British Army, and was part of the squad that won the 2013 Babcock Inter Services Championship, an annual competition between the Royal Navy, British Army, and Royal Air Force.
Prince Harry’s involvement in military rugby reinforced his dedication to the sport and allowed him to build strong connections with fellow servicemen. His on-field camaraderie and leadership skills mirrored the values he had imbibed from his military training and upbringing.
Promoting Rugby Across the Globe
Prince Harry’s passion for rugby is not limited to playing the sport. As a member of the British royal family, he has used his platform to promote rugby on a global scale. In 2019, Prince Harry was named the Patron of the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and the Rugby Football League (RFL), two key organizations responsible for the administration and promotion of rugby in the United Kingdom.
As a patron, Prince Harry has been actively involved in supporting various rugby initiatives and charitable programs. He has used his influence to encourage youth participation in the sport, promote inclusivity, and raise awareness about the positive impact of rugby on individuals and communities. His involvement in these organizations demonstrates his commitment to the sport’s growth and development.
Rugby for Good: The Invictus Games
One of the most significant ways Prince Harry has combined his love for rugby and his commitment to supporting veterans and service personnel is through the Invictus Games. The Invictus Games is an international adaptive multi-sport event that brings together wounded, injured, and sick servicemen and women from around the world.
Rugby has played a crucial role in the Invictus Games, and Prince Harry, as its founder, has ensured that the sport is included in the competition. The Invictus Games have featured adaptive forms of rugby, such as wheelchair rugby, which allow individuals with physical disabilities to participate.
The inclusion of rugby in the Invictus Games underscores Prince Harry’s belief in the healing power of sports and the ability of rugby to instill a sense of purpose, teamwork, and resilience in participants. It has also created a platform for veterans to showcase their determination and strength.
Rugby as a Vehicle for Social Change
Prince Harry’s commitment to rugby goes beyond the field and the games. He has consistently used the sport as a means to effect positive social change and raise awareness about important issues. His involvement in rugby-based initiatives has addressed themes such as mental health, inclusivity, and the rehabilitation of wounded veterans.
One of the initiatives close to Prince Harry’s heart is the mental health campaign “Head’s Up,” which he co-founded. Rugby, with its emphasis on teamwork, has provided a powerful analogy for the importance of addressing mental health as a team effort. Through rugby, Prince Harry has conveyed the message that individuals should not be afraid to seek help and that support from teammates, friends, and family is essential.
The Royal Tour of Africa: A Rugby Legacy
During the Sussexes’ royal tour of Africa in 2019, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visited South Africa. On this tour, they undertook various engagements, and rugby played a prominent role.
Prince Harry made a heartwarming visit to a rugby club in the Nyanga township, where he engaged with young players and watched them practice. The visit highlighted his dedication to using rugby as a means to inspire and empower young people, particularly in underserved communities. It also reinforced the positive impact of sports in fostering resilience and hope among youth.
Supporting Rugby Initiatives for Underprivileged Communities
Prince Harry has also been actively involved in initiatives that aim to bring the benefits of rugby to underprivileged communities. His commitment to promoting sports in disadvantaged areas aligns with his belief in the power of rugby to build confidence, leadership, and teamwork among young people.
One notable example is his support for the Rugby Football Union (RFU) All Schools Program, an initiative that aims to introduce rugby to state schools across England. The program focuses on bringing rugby to schools in economically deprived areas, allowing students to experience the sport’s physical, mental, and social benefits.
Rugby: A Family Affair
Prince Harry’s love for rugby is not a solitary passion. It’s a family affair. His brother, Prince William, and sister-in-law, Kate Middleton, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, are also avid supporters of the sport. The trio has often been spotted enjoying rugby matches together, whether cheering for their favorite teams or engaging with young rugby players.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have played a crucial role in promoting rugby at the grassroots level and encouraging youth participation. Their support, combined with Prince Harry’s active involvement, reflects the royal family’s collective dedication to the sport.
A Tribute to Rugby’s Values
Rugby is more than just a sport; it embodies a set of values and principles that align with Prince Harry’s own beliefs. The sport’s emphasis on teamwork, respect, and camaraderie resonates with his personal values, and he has consistently used rugby as a vehicle to convey messages of unity, resilience, and hope.
Prince Harry’s commitment to rugby has highlighted the role that sports can play in fostering social change, promoting physical and mental well-being, and bringing communities together. His work as a patron and advocate for the sport has had a lasting impact on rugby’s global outreach and inclusivity.
Prince Harry’s love for rugby is not simply a matter of personal passion; it is an embodiment of the values that he holds dear. His commitment to rugby transcends the field, reaching young people in underprivileged communities, injured veterans through the Invictus Games, and individuals facing mental health challenges. Through rugby, Prince Harry has used his platform to inspire positive change and raise awareness about important societal issues.
Rugby, with its values of teamwork, resilience, and inclusivity, has found a passionate advocate in Prince Harry. His enduring connection to the sport is a testament to the transformative power of rugby and its ability to bring individuals and communities together. It serves as a reminder that, whether on the royal stage or the rugby field, Prince Harry’s legacy will continue to make a lasting impact for generations to come.