Back to school
Rugby league may not be a popular sport at Eton, but that could be set to change thanks to three Rhinos.
Last Updated: 29/02/12 7:13am
Eton College is known for many things. They can count no fewer than 19 British prime ministers as former pupils, while their historic presmises were used in such films as 'Chariots of Fire' and 'Shakespeare In Love'.
It also has a tremendous sporting history; Eton actually has not one but two unique versions of football - the 'Field Game' and the 'Eton Wall Game' - while their Sports Society has previously listened to speeches from the likes of Sir Steve Redgrave, Sir Bobby Robson and Sir Clive Woodward.
This week, however, the famous public school, founded in 1440 by King Henry VI, has seen three Rhinos on the rampage.
Kevin Sinfield, Zak Hardaker and Kallum Watkins travelled down from Leeds for a two-day trip that included the trio holding a coaching clinic.
Skipper Sinfield, who recently delivered a motivational speech to England's rugby union squad before the start of the RBS Six Nations, also addressed Eton's Sports Society on Monday night, something he admits will live long in the memory.
"I'm a working-class lad from Oldham, so to come and be in this environment and speak here has been an honour," said the England international. "I really enjoyed it and the lads have been great."
Team-mate Watkins was surprised how much the pupils already knew about the 13-man code, considering union is the more popular oval-ball sport at an establishment that charges fees of around £31,000 each year.
"You think of it more down south as being into rugby union, but it's been quite interesting that a lot of the boys are into rugby league," said the young centre.
Leeds chief executive Gary Hetherington accompanied the three players down to Windsor after the idea for the visit came from Elliott Charles, a keen Rhinos fan who currently attends Eton.
"This was a tremendous honour for Kevin and the Leeds Rhinos and it went down really well," Hetherington said. "They have 1,300 young people and they were keen to learn more about helping them to develop their potential.
"They appreciated the synergy and were fascinated to learn the secret behind helping youngsters reach their potential."
So could we see a Super League star emerge from the Eton ranks in the future? Hetherington is certainly not ruling it out, adding: "It's not a one-off visit. Now we've established a partnership, we'll be looking to strengthen the link and get them more involved in rugby league."