Sergeant set for his big moment at Twickenham

Prince Williams with Sergeant Paul Banks in Afghanistan
Prince Williams with Sergeant Paul Banks in Afghanistan

When England’s rugby union side walk out at Twickenham to face South Africa on Saturday, the town’s influence on the occasion will be more than Owen Farrell’s boot.

Bearing the flag in front of more than 80,000 fans and hundreds of thousands more tuning into Sky Sports, will be a Wigan RAF sergeant logistician.

He’s over the moon. We rang him last night and he was made-up

James Bretherton

Paul Banks, originally of Hindley, will experience a day he will ‘never forget’ according to step-dad James Bretherton, who says the whole family are proud of the husband and dad of three.

“He’s a shy lad, but this is something he’s always wanted to do,” said Bretherton.

“He’s over the moon. We rang him last night and he was made-up. He must be feeling very proud and it’s something he’ll always remember.”

Sgt Banks has a strong rugby league background, having been an excellent winger and earning trials with Salford before joining the Forces in 1997.

He went on to play the 15-a-side game with the RAF’s second team.

Tomorrow won’t be the first time Sgt Banks has been in the limelight.

The 41-year-old met Prince William while at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan, with the royal stopping for a photo with the talented rugby ace.

Sgt Banks, based at the RAF head office in High Wycombe, will arrive at Twickenham early on Saturday for a rehearsal at 9.30am before his big moment ahead of the 2.30pm kick-off, where Farrell and co will be aiming to stretch England’s unbeaten run under coach Eddie Jones to 11 games while also trying for a first win over South Africa in 10 years.