The Queen’s Baton Relay finished its historic trip around England on Saturday at Twickenham where England’s rugby team took on their arch rivals Australia in the first of the Autumn rugby internationals. The baton took to the skies before the start of the match suspended high above the pitch from the England rugby helisphere.
In a festival of English patriotism the pre-match entertainment saw the Queen’s Baton entering the stadium held aloft by a trapeze artist beneath the helisphere, before the pitch was engulfed in the England flag as the English crowd delivered a group rendition of the classic English hymn Jerusalem. The baton, held proud by a member of the military joined the guard of honour welcoming the teams to the pitch for the national anthems in a burst of spectacular fireworks.
At half time the baton was paraded to the capacity crowd by members of the men's and women's England squad, as the finale to the England leg of the Queen’s Baton Relay that will see the baton traverse 190,000 km in its journey from Buckingham Palace to the Opening Ceremony of the Games in Delhi.
All eyes will be on the England rugby sevens team in next year’s Commonwealth Games in Delhi since the decision to include rugby sevens in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio made Delhi an even more significant event in the sport’s programme. With a place in next year’s England Team for the Commonwealth Games in the players’ minds preparations are well underway for this season’s Sevens Series action kicking off in Dubai on December 4. Ryan has retained 10 players from last year’s squad including Sevens Series Highest Points Scorer, Ben Gollings and last season’s IRB Sevens Player of the Year and Captain Ollie Phillips [Stade Francais].
The spectacle at Twickenham was a fitting patriotic end to England’s leg of the Queen’s Baton Relay; and on Sunday the Baton was handed over to Wales where it will spend three days before continuing its journey across the Commonwealth.