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Monday 24 October 2016

Opening ceremony gets royal seal of approval from Prince Harry

Tony Jones

Published 19/09/2015 | 02:30

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge applaud during the opening ceremony Photo: PA
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge applaud during the opening ceremony Photo: PA

Britain's Prince Harry has emulated his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, by making a cameo appearance in the launch of a major sporting event - starring in the opening ceremony of the Rugby World Cup.

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Harry, who is a passionate fan of the sport, joined a cast of famous rugby faces in a short film recreating the moment when William Webb Ellis invented rugby.

The legendary schoolboy is said to have picked up a ball and run with it in 1823, creating a game that would go on to become a global sport.

The Twickenham crowd of around 82,000 fans cheered as the short video was played before the opening game of the tournament - hosts England against Fiji.

In the footage the teenager, clutching the ball, runs out of the grounds of Rugby School passing two workmen - the prince and former England international Jonny Wilkinson.

Harry, wearing a white shirt, braces and trousers, looks up from digging with a spade and, when Wilkinson asks "what's he doing?", the prince replies: "Don't worry Jonny, that will never take off."

His grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, stole the show at the opening ceremony for the London 2012 Olympics when she starred alongside Daniel Craig's James Bond and appeared to skydive into the stadium.

The crowds watched the rest of the opening ceremony staged on Twickenham's pitch, which featured a living tower of rugby players with the tournament's trophy at its summit. During the ceremony there was also loud applause as 20 rugby legends - one from each competing team - were introduced.

Prince Harry gave a speech and told the expectant fans: "There will be moments in this World Cup which will live with us for the rest of our lives. Who could forget 1995 and President (Nelson) Mandela handing The Webb Ellis Cup to Francois Pienaar, or that drop kick in 2003?"

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge also attended the ceremony.

Irish Independent

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