Kate lifted in England lineout as she reveals Louis is ‘kamikaze’ rugby player

The duchess is the new patron of the Rugby Football Union and the Rugby Football League – roles that used to belong to the Duke of Sussex.

02 February 2022

The Duchess of Cambridge has revealed how Prince Louis is a “kamikaze” rugby player as she joined an England training session where she was lifted in a lineout.

Kate, in her new role as patron of the Rugby Football Union (RFU), got stuck in on the pitch as she headed to Twickenham Stadium on Wednesday to meet players, referees and coaches from the men’s and women’s squads as they prepare for the Six Nations championships.

The duchess, known for her love of sport and her competitive nature, said she was “very proud” to become the RFU’s figurehead as she tried out her rugby skills.

She was welcomed by England men’s forward Courtney Lawes and England women’s captain Sarah Hunter and took part in a special skills session run by England head coach Eddie Jones.

The future queen was cheered by players as she caught the ball after being lifted high above their heads in a lineout in what was one of the more unusual activities for a royal to take part in on an official engagement.

She also gave a yelp, laughed and shouted “That’s high” when she was hoisted up during one lift.

Royal visit to Twickenham Stadium
Kate running for a try (Yui Mok/PA)

Kate told of her children’s enthusiasm for rugby, saying George plays the sport at school and three-year-old daredevil Louis likes to be in the “middle of everything”.

She described how eight-year-old George takes part in both rugby and netball with girls and boys at Thomas’s Battersea, adding: “Now that there is a move towards co-ed sport, so it’s not just girls playing netball, but other sports like rugby, which is great.”

The duchess added of her youngsters’ love of rugby: “They’re all enjoying it, Louis is kamikaze, we’re worrying about when he gets older, he’ll be in the middle of everything.”

Hunter joked: “That’s perfect!”

Royal visit to Twickenham Stadium
The Duchess of Cambridge, in her new role as patron of the Rugby Football Union, is lifted up in a lineout during a visit to Twickenham Stadium (Yui Mok/PA)

Kate also took part in her first scrum during exercises with the men’s team.

She perfected drop kicks and high kicks with Saracens full-back Elliot Daly and Harlequins fly-half Marcus Smith, before perfectly kicking the ball through the posts.

“I’m being trained by the pros,” she said, before being shown how to form a scrum.

Royal visit to Twickenham Stadium
Kate with Courtney Lawes and Sarah Hunter (Jeremy Selwyn/Evening Standard/PA)

Kate has taken over the Duke of Sussex’s former roles as patron of both the RFU and the Rugby Football League (RFL) after being given them by the Queen.

She is the first member of the royal family to officially receive one of the Sussexes’ past royal patronages, which they were stripped of post-Megxit.

Harry is a passionate rugby fan who was left disappointed when he lost the prestigious appointments.

Rugby Union – Rugby World Cup 2015 – Pool A – England v Wales – Twickenham Stadium
Harry, William and Kate during the England v Wales Rugby World Cup match at Twickenham Stadium in 2015 (Mike Egerton/PA)

Kate’s new affiliation with England Rugby puts her in direct competition with husband the Duke of Cambridge, who is the Welsh Rugby Union’s patron.

She laughed when Ellis Genge, England and Leicester Tigers prop, asked her about the new rivalry with William, and admitted it would “make things interesting”.

Kate said: “Ha, yes, what does that mean? We’re terribly competitive.

“The fact we’re now supporting two different teams is going to make things interesting.”

Royal visit to Twickenham Stadium
Kate during the practice session (Yui Mok/PA)

William and Kate are expected to attend some England and Wales games during the Six Nations tournament.

The duchess, 40, grew up watching England rugby games with the Middletons, and the family would plan their weekends around international matches.

During training with the women’s team, Kate ran past players, who refrained from tackling the duchess, to score a try.

The duchess celebrated by holding both her hands aloft, joking: “If only it was that easy.”

Kate, wearing a black England rugby top emblazoned with the red rose emblem, black sports leggings, trainers and her hair in a high ponytail, was asked whether she was ready for her training by RFU chairman Tom Ilube as she arrived at Twickenham.

She replied: “Absolutely. I’ve got my kit on.”

Royal visit to Twickenham Stadium
Kate enjoying the session (Jeremy Selwyn/Evening Standard/PA)

She changed into a pair of rugby boots as she made her way on to the pitch.

As the women’s team presented her with junior England kits for George, Princess Charlotte and Louis, Kate told them: “I’m very proud to be here. I’ve got lots to learn, I’ve been looking at different players and tactics.”

Hunter hailed Kate’s new patronage as “a really powerful movement and message” for the women’s game.

Royal visit to Twickenham Stadium
Kate with England women’s captain Sarah Hunter (Yui Mok/PA)

She added: “It’s a great feeling that she’s part of our rugby family.

“That she was so keen to get stuck in there, scrummaging, says a lot. She has natural ability and co-ordination and even scored a try at Twickenham.”

Maro Itoje, England and Saracens second row, said of the duchess’s playing skills: “She’s very good for someone who doesn’t regularly play rugby.”

He added: “She was very engaging and seems very happy to be here. She was talking about how George is playing a bit of rugby and how he’s a bit bigger than some of the other boys, so there can be a bit of a differential there.

“She was also saying how when England play Wales, it’s going to be very interesting in their household.

“She’s a massive fan of the game and she comes to the games, to have her as our patron is fantastic.”

Royal visit to Twickenham Stadium
Kate kicking a rugby ball (Yui Mok/PA)

Kate chatted to England women players who are preparing for the World Cup in New Zealand this autumn, including Abby Dow, Poppy Cleall and Shaunagh Brown.

The duchess remarked: “I’ve never seen the stadium so quiet, it’s amazing. Do you get to play here a lot? What was it like training during the pandemic?”

She added: “It must be great to be back and with so much to look forward to this year.”

Following the session, she also spoke with referee Sara Cox, the first woman to referee a Premiership game, for a pitch-side chat to hear more about her journey to becoming a professional referee, and her career highlights and challenges.

The duchess wished the players good luck in the Six Nations, and was presented with referee whistles for George, Charlotte and Louis.

The men’s Guinness Six Nations action begins on Saturday, with Ireland facing Wales, and Scotland versus England.

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