50 students from Accrington Academy were invited to perform the national anthems at an International rugby league match between England and New Zealand in Wigan. The students had vocal training from opera singer Sean Ruane (Chant) for 7 weeks leading up to the event. The Academy singers learned how to sing the English national anthem with pride, the New Zealand national anthem (which is in Maori!), Jerusalem and a pop song mash up to make the crowd go wild!
On 4th November, a presenter from BBC Radio Lancashire interviewed some of our students and recorded the group singing some of the music live on air. This was a fantastic opportunity for our students; to experience the tight schedules of broadcasting live and performing to the professional standard that is expected for these events.
The match took place on 14th November 2015. 2 matches had already taken place; England had won one, and New Zealand had also won one. This match was the decider! With that in mind, the students really felt the pressure to sing well and set the atmosphere for the match to support England. We spent the morning practicing the singing on the pitch, and walking on and off professionally without damaging any broadcasting equipment! The stadium was so huge; it was overwhelming when it was filled with fans! Whilst looking up at all of the fans, Ben Riley said, “This is incredible!” After we had performed, the pyrotechnics went off and we ran off ready for the All Blacks to perform their Haka.
When we got off the pitch, Carla Rutherford said, “This is the best thing I’ve done in my whole life”. What an amazing experience!