Kate cheered by England’s rugby players after starring role in lineout lift

The Duchess of Cambridge showed off her rugby skills when she was lifted in a lineout during an England training session in her new role as patron of the Rugby Football Union (RFU).

Kate headed to Twickenham Stadium on Wednesday to meet players from the men’s and women’s squads as they prepare for the Six Nations championships.

The duchess, known for her love of sport and her competitive nature, took to the pitch with the players for a special skills session run by England head coach Eddie Jones.

Royal visit to Twickenham Stadium
The Duchess of Cambridge, in her new role as patron of the Rugby Football Union, is lifted up in a lineout during a visit to Twickenham Stadium (Yui Mok/PA)

She prompted cheers from her new teammates when she caught the ball after being lifted high above their heads in a lineout.

After running past players to practise scoring a try, Kate celebrated by holding both her hands aloft after her touchdown and saying: “If only it was that easy.”

Kate, wearing a black England rugby top emblazoned with the red rose emblem, black sports leggings, trainers and her hair in a high ponytail, was asked whether she was ready for her training as she arrived at Twickenham.

The duchess replied: “Absolutely. I’ve got my kit on.”

Royal visit to Twickenham Stadium
Kate during the practice session (Yui Mok/PA)

She changed into a pair of rugby boots as she made her way on to the pitch, where three new England kits were waiting as presents for her children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.

Kate has taken over the Duke of Sussex’s former roles as patron of both the RFU and the Rugby Football League (RFL) after being given them by the Queen.

She is the first member of the royal family to officially receive one of the Sussexes’ past royal patronages, which they were stripped of post-Megxit.

Royal visit to Twickenham Stadium
Kate in her rugby kit and boots on the pitch at Twickenham (Yui Mok/PA)

Kate, who used to watch rugby with her family when she was growing up, shared her joy at the appointments in a personal message on Twitter.

It was accompanied by a new video of the duchess, dressed in workout gear, showing off her skills, as she throws, catches and smiles as she spins a rugby ball on her finger, and virtually passes to a host of players.

She wrote: “I am so thrilled to become patron of the @TheRFL and @EnglandRugby.

Royal visit to Twickenham Stadium
The Duchess of Cambridge, in her new role as patron of the Rugby Football Union, during a visit to Twickenham Stadium (Yui Mok/PA)

“Two fantastic organisations who are committed to harnessing the power that sport can have in bringing communities together and helping individuals flourish.

“I look forward to working with them across all levels of the games, and to cheering England on in what promises to be an exciting year for both sports!”

She signed the message “C”.

In the video passing chain, Kate throws the ball, which lands in the hands of Thea Northcott, a rugby union community game player, who then passes it on to Harry Newman from the England rugby league men’s team.

The footage also features Jodie Cunningham from the England rugby league women’s team, Maro Itoje from the England rugby union men’s team, James Simpson from the England rugby league wheelchair men’s team, and Poppy Cleall from the England rugby union women’s team.

The men’s Guinness Six Nations action begins on Saturday, with Ireland facing Wales, and England versus Scotland.

Royal visit to Twickenham Stadium
Kate enjoying the session (Jeremy Selwyn/Evening Standard/PA)

Kate’s new affiliation with England Rugby puts her in direct competition with husband the Duke of Cambridge, who is the Welsh Rugby Union’s patron.

The duchess is herself expected to one day become the Princess of Wales, and she has supported Wales at matches with William in the past.

In 2015, the Cambridges backed Wales when they joined thousands of fans to watch the team’s 2015 Rugby World Cup clash against England at Twickenham.

Kate and William proudly sported the Welsh colours and sang the Welsh national anthem, while Harry wore an England rugby shirt with the message “Carry Them Home” at the back.

The Cambridges are already known for their friendly rivalry with one another, particularly during on-pitch sporting engagements.

Rugby Union – Rugby World Cup 2015 – Pool A – England v Wales – Twickenham Stadium
Harry, William and Kate during the England v Wales Rugby World Cup match at Twickenham Stadium in 2015 (Mike Egerton/PA)

Kate, 40, grew up watching England rugby games with the Middletons.

A source said: “The duchess has happy memories of watching rugby matches with her family as a child.”

The duchess’s sister, Pippa Matthews, spoke about the family’s love of rugby for Vanity Fair in 2014, writing: “Rugby was a big thing in our family, and the focal point was international matches, which were often played on Saturday afternoons and were as much social as sporting occasions.

“We’d plan our weekends around the matches.”

She added: “If we lost, my dad would be in a state of despair for the rest of the afternoon, as if he’d actually lost the game himself.”

It has long been reported that the duchess, seen as a safe pair of hands by the Queen, would be filling the gap left by passionate rugby fan Harry when he was stripped of the roles in February last year.