Jason Robinson, scorer of the only try for England on the way to victory in the 2003 Rugby World Cup final, was in Leeds today to cast an eye over volunteers taking part in the Try Outs campaign for next year's showpiece event.
The campaign aims to find 6,000 volunteers for Rugby World Cup 2015 and Try Outs are taking place in Newcastle today and tomorrow offering potential members of "The Pack" an opportunity to find out more about next year's tournament and take part in a 20 minute one-to-one interview.
The Try Outs include an exhibition space dedicated to the history of rugby, an interactive space, a motivational video for would-be volunteers and a real-life changing room to try on kit complete with vintage rugby sweaters and an authentic heat spray scent.
Organisers of next year's tournament say that 20,000 people have applied to be members of "The Pack" and 10,000 people have been invited to attend the Try Outs taking place across the 11 host cities.
The campaign began in June and is due to run until December.
Hundreds of volunteers attended the Try Outs in Leeds and were surprised by a visit from Robinson, who was joined by Yorkshire Carnegie players Jon Clarke and Lee Imiolek, Leeds City Councillor Kevin Ritchie and the famous Webb Ellis Cup.
The Leeds-born Robinson was a key member of the England squad that claimed the 2003 Webb Ellis Cup in Australia, which famously saw Jonny Wilkinson kick a last-gasp drop goal in extra-time to beat the hosts in the final in Sydney.
After beginning his career in rugby league, where he spent eight years at Wigan Warriors and winning 12 Great Britain caps, Robinson made the switch to rugby union in 2000 joining Sale Sharks before going on to score 28 tries in 51 appearances for England.
Commenting on the Try Outs session in his native city he said: "It's great to see so many volunteers from across Leeds showing their support for the game, their hometown and the tournament itself.
"With such a wide range of people taking part in this process, from across the UK, it really shows how Rugby World Cup 2015 is capturing the heart of the nation.
"Volunteers play a really important role in rugby and it is great to see them have a key role in Rugby World Cup 2015."
Leeds is due to host two matches during the tournament next year.
The city's 39,000 capacity Elland Road stadium, which is home to Leeds United Football Club, will stage the Pool D match between Italy and Canada on September 26 followed by the Pool B clash between Scotland and the United States on September 27.
Elland Road is one of 13 stadiums across England and Wales being used to host the 48 matches of Rugby World Cup 2015 scheduled to take place from September 18 to October 31.
England 2015 say they aim to recruit 75 per cent of volunteers from the rugby community who help run the game week in, week out with the remainder coming from the general public.
Those who have been successful in being selected to be part of The Pack will be notified in early 2015.
"We're extremely thankful to all those who have volunteered their time to take part in the process, both in Leeds this week and at the events in all of our host cities throughout the year," said Debbie Jevans, chief executive of England 2015.
"We have had a fantastic level of interest and applications for the programme which shows the great level of enthusiasm and excitement for volunteering and for the tournament."
Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]
October 2014: England legend Wilkinson marks one-year until Rugby World Cup kick-off in Newcastle
June 2014: "Try Outs" underway for 2015 Rugby World Cup volunteers