Duke of Sussex hosts Rugby League World Cup draw at Buckingham Palace

The Duke of Sussex, patron of the Rugby Football League, hosted the World Cup Draw in the Throne Room in Buckingham Palace on Thursday. The draw was held at 12 noon and was streamed live across social media platforms to launch the competition. 

Seema Jaswal, television anchor and sports enthusiast, and Dave Woods, sports commentator, joined Prince Harry in his hosting duties in the Throne Room of the palace.

Prior to the draw, Prince Harry met with a group of youngsters playing rugby on a temporary pitch in the palace garden, famed for its annual garden parties. They came from the St Vincent de Paul Catholic Primary School and have previously competed in the London Youth Games.

Celebrities from the rugby and sport communities were on hand as well, including Dame Katherine Grainger, Britain’s most decorated Olympian and Chair of UK Sport, Jon Dutton, CEO of the Rugby League World Cup 2021 (RLWC2021) group, Stuart Cain, non-executive director of RLWC2021, and Jason Robinson, former dual-code league and union player. 

Prince Harry heads out to the gardens at Buckingham Palace to meet young rugby players. (RFL2021)

Young rugby players get to play the game in the palace gardens (Royal Family)

Australian comedian Adam Hills joined the Duke and other players for an informal chat during the event, during which Hills’s beard generated massive compliments from Prince Harry.

One of the best manicured and styled beards I have ever seen,” the Royal said of the facial hair.

Understanding how the draw works required a bit of explanation. The RLWC2021 team happily obliged, producing an explanatory video featuring a stern instructor and famous faces from the rugby world.

The draw came one day after League, with the Duke’s support, announced the first-ever Mental Fitness Charter. All 21 participating countries signed the agreement and will design and implement mental health programmes and resources for players, coaches, and fans. Each nation then pledges to offer the same types of services within their home countries after the tournament.

Prince Harry helps draw lots for the rugby world cup 2021 games (Royal Family)

He spoke of how sport saves lives, and helps transform them, referencing the Invictus Games.

The Duke became patron of the League in 2016. Prior to his tenure The Queen held the position beginning in 1964.

And for the first time in tournament history, the men’s, women’s, and wheelchair matches will be held simultaneously in venues throughout London and the rest of England. The BBC will cover all matches live.

Despite the tumult of last week the Duke appeared happy and relaxed and clearly served as an inspiration to the athletes and the worldwide rugby community.

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