ENGLAND rugby legend Danny Care, 37, returned to his old school, Prince Henry’s Grammar School in Otley, to talk to students and to join Otley’s Town Mayor, Cllr Ray Smith, in officially opening the community 3G pitch at the school.

Danny, who has been capped 99 times for England Rugby, took a break from his training schedule to spend the afternoon at the school.

Danny attended Prince Henry’s throughout his school career, helping them to Yorkshire Cup victories at U13, U16 and the U18 national vase in 2004. He made his debut for England School Rugby in 2003. Danny has been involved in the senior England Rugby Team since 2006, which makes him England’s sixth most capped player in the men’s game, hoping to collect his 100th cap in the near future.

Students enjoyed a Q and A session, followed by a chance to meet Danny personally before he cut the ribbon on the Community 3G Pitch. During his speech, Danny spoke about being honoured to return to open the pitch and what a fantastic resource it is for the school and local community, in comparison to the grass pitch he used to play on. He also reminisced about how he had started as a footballer but, with the encouragement of his PE teacher, Pete Latham, he had switched to rugby – and the rest is history.

Ilkley Gazette: Danny Care cuts the ribbon to officially open the new 3G pitch at Prince Henry'sDanny Care cuts the ribbon to officially open the new 3G pitch at Prince Henry's (Image: submitted)

The community 3G pitch came into being after eight years of partnership working with local clubs, with funding from the clubs, Otley Town Council, the Football Foundation and Sport England and is used by local clubs for training and matches and by the school during the school day. The pitch has a shock pad, which means that contact rugby, as well as football, can be played on the pitch.

Sally Bishop, Headteacher at Prince Henry’s said: “We were so proud to welcome Danny back to school to inspire our students and open the community 3G pitch. It was particularly pleasing for him to be joined by so many of the local community who have supported this exciting project for Otley – whether the Town Councillors who gave us funding or the representatives of so many of our local clubs, who made this project happen. It really has been a community effort, so it was fantastic to see everyone together.”

Ilkley Gazette: Danny Care with students at Prince Henry'sDanny Care with students at Prince Henry's (Image: submitted)

As well as the partner club slots, the pitch is open for the local community to ‘pay and play’, for holiday clubs or local leagues. For further details, contact Pippa McPherson at Prince Henry’s on 01943 463524.