Former England Captain Jamie Peacock MBE, and former Australian Captain Darren Lockyer led a special training session for members of the Political Animals Rugby League Club in the Houses of Parliament on Tuesday this week in the build-up to the Rugby League World Cup 2013.
In front of Big Ben, the international legends offered their expertise to MPs and Peers who play Rugby League for the club created specifically to allow politicians to experience the sport on the field and be better informed when speaking about the game in Parliament.
All three major political parties were represented on what was a cold but sunny day, including Leeds North West MP, Political Animals Club Captain and Parliamentary Rugby League Group Chairman Greg Mulholland, former Sports Minister and new owner of Bradford Bulls Gerry Sutcliffe, former Foreign Office Minister and current Shadow Minister for Immigration for Minister Chris Bryant, Lord Dominic Addington, Keighley MP Kris Hopkins and Wigan MP Lisa Nandy. Joining them were Parliamentary Rugby League Group and Political Animals Secretary Mark Ramsdale and Scott Devine, former Director of Research to New Zealand Foreign Secretary Winston Peters MP.
After the session, Mulholland thanked Peacock and Lockyer saying, "For those of us who love Rugby League and have the privilege of representing clubs in Parliament, having Rugby League legends Jamie Peacock MBE and Darren Lockyer deliver a session in front of Big Ben is brilliant."
"It is great to have two such ambassadors for the game supporting the RLWC2013 and the opportunity for the Political Animals to train with them right in the heart of Westminster was not only a special opportunity but a great chance to promote the tournament and the sport of rugby league to Parliamentarians, many of whom will have seen the session taking place on New Palace Yard.
"I hope that following this we can continue to talk to our colleagues about the tournament and how important it is as the first major sporting event in the UK after the Olympics and one of the cornerstones of the UK's golden decade of sport."
After putting the MPs through their paces, Peacock said "We're fortunate to have such a great bunch of politicians who are happy to pull on some shorts and play Rugby League. As professional players, Darren and I know what it's like to take to the field, and it's important that MPs know that feeling too if they are to talk up the game in Parliament. As well as sharing the benefits of our experience with the ball, Darren and I used the opportunity to speak about RLWC13 next year and what it means for communities and constituencies throughout the UK."
Lockyer, who is in the UK to promote RLWC13, said "I'm going up and down the UK to meet those who are going to benefit from the Rugby League World Cup 2013, but the players we met today have a very important role in promoting the tournament to their peers in Parliament and throughout the country. RLWC2013 is the first major international sports tournament after the Olympic Games and it is vital to have political support.
"Good on those who came out to throw the ball around today; they are exactly what we need to talk up our game."
The schedule for the Police Rugby League World Cup was announced at the Provident Stadium, Bradford earlier today and sees current World Champions Fiji, Australia and host nation Great Britain go head to head in a round-robin format.
Seven of Rugby League's most celebrated heroes will be in attendance with specific roles at Magic Weekend, the seventh staging of Super League's two-day extravaganza, when the event returns to the Etihad Stadium, Manchester, this weekend.