Duchess Kate Adds Rugby To Her List of Royal Duties
Photo: Getty

From her days on her university hockey team to taking on tennis champion Emma Raducanu on the court last year, it’s no secret that the Duchess of Cambridge is into sports. Now, Kensington Palace has announced that Duchess Kate is making rugby part of her official duties, taking over two patronages that belonged to Prince Harry before he stepped back from royal life.

In a February 2 statement, a spokesperson confirmed that the roles of patron of the Rugby Football League and patron of the Rugby Football Union had been given to Kate by the queen and “closely align with Her Royal Highness’ longstanding passion for sport and the lifelong benefits it can provide, both within our communities and on an individual level.”

As the news broke, Kate shared a personal message on social media, writing, “I am so thrilled to become Patron of the Rugby Football League and Rugby Football Union. … 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! C.” The caption accompanied an upbeat clip showing a Sweaty Betty–clad duchess throwing a rugby ball to players of different backgrounds.

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Kate wasted no time in getting hands-on with the new roles. She spent Wednesday morning at London’s Twickenham Stadium—one of the biggest rugby stadiums in the world. The engagement was a chance to meet England rugby team players, coaches, and referees, as well as join a training session taking place on the pitch.

Royal glamour was left in the locker room for the visit, with Kate arriving in a black England rugby training top, black sports leggings, and sneakers. “Absolutely! I’ve got my kit on,” she replied when asked if she was ready to play. “I’m very proud to be here,” Kate told England player Elliot Daly. “I’ve got lots to learn.”

It seemed like Kate had already gotten in a little practice, showing off her ability to drop-kick the ball and even get in on a rugby scrum with the women’s players, with whom she later chatted about how the pandemic has impacted the sport over the past two years.

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Duchess Kate Adds Rugby To Her List of Royal Duties
Photo: Getty
Duchess Kate Adds Rugby To Her List of Royal Duties
Photo: Getty
Duchess Kate Adds Rugby To Her List of Royal Duties
Photo: Getty

The duchess’s children, Prince George, Prince Charlotte, and Prince Louis, were no doubt happy when Mom returned home to Kensington Palace—players gave the duchess mini England kits as gifts for the trio. “Now that there is a move towards co-ed sport, it’s not just girls playing netball, but other sports like rugby, which is great. They’re all enjoying it,” she said of her children’s enthusiasm for the sport. “Louis is kamikaze, we’re worrying about when he gets older, he’ll be in the middle of everything!”

Kate is well known for her love of sport. On royal engagements in the past, she has been seen playing tennis and netball, cycling, running, and even enjoying ping-pong. She is already patron of the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club (the home of Wimbledon) and is royal patron of the SportsAid charity, which helps future sports stars by funding their early career years.

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The news of Kate’s patronages have gone down well within the rugby community. In a statement shared with BAZAAR.comRalph Rimmer, chief executive officer of the Rugby Football League—the national governing body for Rugby League in the United Kingdom—said, “We are truly honoured by the appointment of The Duchess of Cambridge as the Rugby Football League’s Royal Patron. We are delighted to welcome her as we prepare to host Men’s, Women’s, Wheelchair and Physical Disability Rugby League World Cups in England this autumn. Our sport’s history has been built on a commitment to tackling inequalities and we honour that through our focus on having a positive social impact well beyond the pitch. We look forward to working with The Duchess in the years to come, and I know all levels of our sport will welcome her to the Rugby League family.”

Bill Sweeney, chief executive officer of the Rugby Football Union—England’s governing body for grassroots and elite rugby union—added, “As rugby clubs have re-opened across the country, players, officials, and volunteers are celebrating being back in the game together, and we know the support of The Duchess will be greatly valued from our grass roots clubs and fast-growing women and girls’ game, right up to our elite Men’s and Women’s England teams.”

Later this month, Kate is expected to attend England’s Six Nations Championships against Wales at Twickenham Stadium. And she could be sat right next to a new rival for the February 26 game—Prince William is the Welsh Rugby Union’s patron! “We’re terribly competitive,” the duchess admitted to England players on Wednesday. “The fact we’re now supporting two different teams is going to make things interesting.”

This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR US.