A local youngster, aged nine, led England’s rugby team out against South Africa at Twickenham on Saturday (November 20th).

Ava, 9, was the mascot at the historic world rugby match at Twickenham – 115 years since the debut of the first ever black England player Jimmy Peters.

Ava, with the grandson of England’s first black player 115 years ago and first black captain’s son, were chosen as mascots for the match.

The game celebrated Jimmy Peters, who made his debut in 1906 and played five internationals and World Cup winner Jason Robinson, who also skippered the team in 2004.

Jimmy also represented Somerset, where Ava attends Pawlett Primary School Academy.

Dad Dave, who was at the game along with wife Becky and Ava’s brother Ronnie, says: “We are all over the moon with this and Ava is incredibly excited. She has wanted to be a mascot for a long, long time.”

School principal Emma Barker adds: “Ava is an outstanding and enthusiastic pupil and our whole school community are super thrilled at her once in a lifetime experience.”

Jimmy had a remarkable life, from his Jamaican circus showman father being mauled to death by a lion, to his abandonment, to representing his country and then ultimately being banned by his sport.

As the first black man to play rugby for England, between 1906 and 1908, he was a pioneer. But he sadly did not pave the way for other black players – it was 80 years before a black player would wear the red rose again.

Jason was known as Billy Whizz because of his speed on the pitch. Playing as a wing or fullback, he won 51 caps for England.

 
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