The chairman of World Rugby returned to his old stomping ground to show his support for an inaugural cup match between two college sides.

Sir Bill Beaumont, a former England and British and Irish Lions star, was in attendance at Ellesmere College took on Wrekin College in the first ever North Midlands RFU Centenary Schools Challenge Cup.

The match was organised as part of the North Midlands RFU centenary celebrations.

Sir Bill was invited along to the game as a special guest, while the fixture was officiated by World Cup referee Luke Pearce.

The 67-year-old, who attended Ellesmere College as a teenager, went on to play for Fylde Rugby Club at the age of 17, where he spent his whole career until his retirement in 1982.

His talent earned him a spot in the Lancashire county side, which gave him a pathway to the England national team who Sir Bill went on to represent on more than 30 occasions.

Sir Bill said: “It’s very nostalgic to be back here. It isn’t hugely different to when I left.

“The rugby fields are still the same. The facilities are significantly better than when I was here, but the DNA of the school is still the same.

“It’s 50 years since I left, and the headmaster is here today who was in the role when I was here.”

Sir Bill was impressed with the rugby on show and said today’s young players hopeful of making it into the professional game face more of a challenge in comparison with players in his his era.

“I was one of those players who went straight to club rugby and then onto county rugby as it was in those days.

“I played for Lancashire, and we had a really good team which included four or five international players. Once you got into the county team, you stood a very good chance of making it to the national team.

“Whereas now, boys and parents are having to make decisions at a younger age.

“It’s now a case of when they reach the age of 16, they must decide whether to carry on with their education, concentrate on your rugby at an academy or just play rugby at a school or college for the enjoyment.

“Then you have to start thinking about whether you have a good chance of making it.

“There’s far more pressure now because the game is a lot more professional; when I played, it was amateur and therefore far less pressure.

Despite highlighting the pressures on young players in the game today, Sir Bill believes the most important thing for young players in the game is still to enjoy it.

He said: “My advice to anybody who’s coming into the game would be to make sure you enjoy it, that’s what it’s all about.

“We lose track of that sometimes, because we tend to focus on the top two per cent of the sport which is professional.

“We need to make sure we never forget or lose track of the other 98 per cent of rugby which is played by people who want to have a bit of fun.

“To me, it’s the greatest team game you can play.

“When I look back at it, I’ve had and am still having enormous fun out of the game.

“It’s a sport which is full of great characters and to me, if you’re part of a rugby set-up, then I think it offers more to you than other sports do.

“I think it helps with school and respect; when you’re on a rugby field you accept the referee’s decision and don’t argue with it.

“To me, it really is a privilege and an honour to still be involved with the sport.”

Despite having reached the top of the sport during his career, and now being the chairman of World Rugby, Sir Bill is still very much in touch with his roots.

“I still enjoy going to my local rugby club Fylde on a Saturday afternoon to watch them play,” he added.

“I walk to the ground, have a few beers with my mates and walk home afterwards.

“I also enjoy watching my son play, although he’s injured at the moment.

“Rugby is part of my family’s DNA and I really do enjoy being a part of it.”