If you happen to know where to find infant-sized rugby equipment, give Prince Harry a call. The Duke of Sussex can’t wait to get his fifteen-month-old son Archie involved in the sport, he said, but hasn’t yet been able to find rugby balls fit for a baby.
Harry took part in a virtual chat with members of the U.K.’s Rugby League, one of his patronages, over the weekend. The league is celebrating its 125th anniversary.
When former rugby star and current coach coach Ellery Hanley asked Harry how he’s enjoying his new home in the U.S., he said he’s “loving it” — but that there’s one notable thing his new life in Santa Barbara, CA, is missing.
“What I need is a few mini rugby balls that I can then get Archie involved with the game, because at the moment it’s impossible to find any,” Harry said.
On the call, he connected with, among others, father-son pair Jamie and Kurgan Jones-Buchanan. Jamie is one of the coaches for the Leeds Rhinos, for whom he used to be a star player, and his 11-year-old son Kurgan shares his love of the game.
Rugby “means a lot to me,” Kurgan told Harry. “I love the sport, and I love being around all my mates to support me, and also my family. My dad’s helped me,” he said, while his proud dad listened and grinned.
“I love that,” Harry responded. “Perfect answer.”
The prince played rugby when he was a student at Eton College, and after he graduated he spent a few months training as an assistant development officer with the Rugby Football Union.
He doesn’t play much anymore because of “numerous injuries,” he’s said, but he still loves the game.
“I’m like a Labrador with a tennis ball,” he told The Telegraph in 2018. “As soon as I see a rugby ball...”
On Saturday, Harry talked to the players, coaches and volunteers about the importance of community within the rugby world, and how significant that is during the COVID-19 pandemic in particular.
“It’s the community part that many people who don’t watch Rugby League don’t know about,” Harry said. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re in the stands, whether you’re a groundsman, whether you’re a player, whether you’re a fan, or whether it’s your first time watching. Every single person is bound... There are not many sports that can say that.”
And while he said he can’t wait to teach Archie to play the game, he understands how lucky he is to have access to an outdoor space that his family can use.
“I am just unbelievably fortunate and grateful to have outdoor space and see my son be able to be outside,” he said. “Our little man is our number one priority,” but “I know that so many people just haven’t had that opportunity in the last five months.”
“Some people said COVID doesn’t discriminate between classes, and it’s like, no,” he went on.
“I know a lot of people who are stuck in a high-rise block of flats. They can’t even see outdoor space, they can’t even see grass... Though it’s not my environment, I’m constantly aware of it, and I think that’s one thing we all need to be really aware of. These last five months [will] play a huge part in the next 10, maybe 15 years, as far as people’s mental health is concerned.”
Whether Archie becomes a rugby player remains to be seen, but he does already have the outfit, if he hasn’t yet grown out of it. Last fall Archie was gifted a teeny jersey when Harry met former Wales rugby captain Gareth Thomas.