Rugby League joins Prime Minister at Number 10.
Rugby League was among a number sports on show at 10 Downing Street on Wednesday as the Prime Minister, the Right Hon. Tony Blair MP, launched an initiative which will see 100 high-profile personalities become patrons of London community sports clubs.
Included on the guest list at Number 10 were the RFL's chief operating officer Nigel Wood, Harlequins RL head coach Brian McDermott and south London rugby league stalwart Dave Bold.
The scheme will see many of London's junior rugby league clubs allocated patrons from a wide range of backgrounds.
Among those people already confirmed as patrons are Lawn Tennis Association chief executive and former Loughborough University and Hemel Hempstead rugby league player Roger Draper, who will become a rugby league patron, and BBC Sports presenter Clare Balding, who has agreed to become a patron of the West London Sharks rugby league club.
Balding was among the guests at Number 10 and met members of the Sharks, including junior players Luqman Hayder, Hayder Hayder and Ben Hodgeson.
Clare Stevens, the West London Sharks' junior secretary, was delighted to meet their new patron.
She said: "We are trying to provide the best possible environment for young people from the local community to enjoy and achieve in rugby league, so having someone of Clare's standing will help us to raise the profile the sport in the area.
"Clare has been outstanding in her presentation of rugby league and is a recognisable face to our young players as well as fans of rugby league.
"We met Clare for the first time today and she is wholeheartedly behind the scheme. She was so enthusiastic and showed a lot of interest in the young players she met. We're delighted!"
West London Sharks players also met the Prime Minister, who spent some time talking to them.
Mr. Blair has also agreed to become the patron of a London community sports club.
Nigel Wood added: "We're delighted to be part of this scheme and hope that both the clubs and patrons benefit from this new link.
"This is another example of how rugby league is benefiting from being part of the 'Big Five' sports and illustrates still further how the sport is continuing to grow in London.
"We're extremely grateful to all the patrons and the London clubs, who continue to make big strides in the capital."