The England rugby union stars of tomorrow got up close and personal with their heroes at Twickenham stadium.

More than 15,000 rugby fans, including pupils from 11 neighbouring schools, watched new head coach Eddie Jones put his team through their paces on Friday (January 29).

Schoolchildren performed a guard of honour for the squad ahead of England’s opening Six Nations encounter with Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday.

Will Fellows, 14, from Orleans Park School, said: “I waved a flag when the players ran out – it was a good opportunity.

“I play for London Scottish and we do a lot of rugby at school so it great to be part of something like this.”

The event also included a question and answer session with new captain Dylan Hartley and players James Nowell and James Haskell.This Is Local London:

New England skipper Dylan Hartley signs autographs for adoring fans

Iris Klever, assistant headteacher at Chase Bridge Primary School in Whitton, said it was a “great opportunity” for its students to experience.

She said: “We are very involved in rugby at our school and it is great to bring 190 children to an event like this.

“The stadium overlooks our school so it is good to visit with the kids.”

The open training session was originally intended to be open to 10,000 people but was expanded to cater for overwhelming demand.

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Schoolchildren perform a guard of honour for the England team

Harry Hughes, PE teacher at Chatsworth Primary School, said he had introduced rugby union to the curriculum at the Hounslow school.

He added: “It has been a fun day – it was great for the kids to get on the pitch, hopefully it will inspire them.”

Schoolchildren and rugby fans travelled from as far afield as Newcastle to watch England’s senior team prepare for the Six Nations.

Twickenham MP Tania Mathias attended the event, along with St Margarets and North Twickenham ward councillors Geoff Acton and Alexander Ehmann.

Coun Acton said: “I have been a councillor for ten years and feel it important to work with the RFU to encourage good relations and resolve any issues.

“Today is part of that relationship.”

Coun Ehmann added: “It is always a good idea to involve local residents who may sometimes have to deal with the less glamorous side of rugby matches to an event like this.

“To participate as a thank you is very welcome.”

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New head coach Eddie Jones called the session an "important moment"

New head coach Jones said: “Today’s open training session was a really important moment for the whole England team.

“After today, I’m sure the players are more eager than ever to return to Twickenham when we face Ireland on February 27.

“I’d like to thank everyone who came out today and showed their support for the team.

“It means a huge amount to each and every one of us.”

England kick off their tournament away to Scotland on Saturday while the first match at Twickenham in against Ireland on February 27.