Paul O’Connell and Gerald Davies headed a group of British & Irish Lions at the unveiling of a new rugby pitch and changing facilities at Simondium Primary School in Paarl this week.
The new facilities at Simondium School are the latest to be provided under the Legacy Project by Lions sponsor FirstCape Wines.
The project fulfils a commitment by FirstCape to give something back to the local community around its Simondium winery as part of its sponsorship of the Lions.
As part of FirstCape’s unveiling, Lions squad members Lee Mears, Luke Fitzgerald, David Wallace, Stephen Ferris, Ronan O’Gara, Leigh Halfpenny, Shane Williams, Lee Byrne and tour captain Paul O’Connell took part in a coaching session with the children.
HSBC ambassador and two-time Lion Jason Robinson joined the HSBC Penguins Coaching Academy members in teaching 100 children from the school.
This was part of HSBC’s commitment as Principal Partner of the Lions tour to investing in the South African community.
HSBC also donated some kit to the children which was collected by Bolton School as part of their SOS IRB Kit Aid scheme.
Rhino Rugby also kindly donated some equipment for the school’s big day.
“Our students are very passionate about rugby and to meet these rugby heroes is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them,” said Simondium’s headmaster William Keet.
“Our new facilities will have such a positive effect not only on our students but on their families and our wider community and as such we are very grateful to FirstCape and the Lions for their involvement.
Lions tour manager Gerald Davies was delighted to see the progress made at the school since he first visited a year ago.
“We came here last year to view the school before work had started and seeing the difference that FirstCape’s legacy project has made, we are immensely proud to have been involved.
“To formally open the facilities today is a very special for the Lions, knowing that we have been able to leave a lasting legacy for these children and their community.”
It was an experience which Lee Byrne, the Ospreys and Wales full-back, said he will never forget.
“These kids have so little but they are full of spirit and just so excited every time they pick up a rugby ball,” he said.
“It’s a real privilege to be here to share this day with them, pass on a few tips and see them enjoy this new facility.”