'Always my dream': Hackney rugby player to lead Six Nations national anthem
- Credit: Lynn Hay
A Hackney rugby player will be leading the singing of the national anthem on Saturday (February 26), before the England versus Wales Six Nations game kick-off at Twickenham.
Richard Hadfield, 28, who plays for the Old Streetonians Rugby based at Hackney Marshes, will lead an 82,000 person crowd and the English team in a rendition of God Save the Queen.
His family, including his brother James, who plays for Richmond Rugby and his dad Lester, who once played prop for Wasps and Ealing Trailfinders, will be at the match.
Hadfield said: "It was always my dream and I’m incredibly proud to sing for my country and my sport which is so near and dear to my heart."
Like his dad, Richard used to play prop but now he mostly plays centre for his Hackney club.
“Although they often come to my shows, the boys at the club thought I was winding them up about singing the anthem at Twickenham," said Richard.
"I’ve had to ask them not to heckle on this occasion. They're so excited to see me perform at Twickenham.”
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In 2014, Richard won Britain's Got Talent as part of the musical theatre group Collabro.
He has since 2016 carried on singing as a solo artist focusing on both classical music and jazz.
During the lockdowns in an effort to cheer up the nation he put on 100 days of online performances calling the series A Song a Day Keeps Corona Away.
Hadfield started playing rugby and singing at school in Hove.
As a teenager he joined Harlequins Academy and played for South East Counties.
But injuries such as shin splints hampered his hopes to play the sport professionally.
That's when he began busking in his hometown of Brighton.
“I was shaking like a leaf the first time," Hadfield added:
"But it certainly helped me when it came to containing nerves in front of live audiences,” he said.
“My biggest problem in front of 82,000 at Twickenham will be trying not to cry."
The 28-year-old still playing for his local team is "exhilarating".
He added: "It’s a wonderful club which started as a bunch of creatives; artists, actors, journalists around Hackney."