WINCHESTER schoolchildren were treated to an afternoon of tries, tap-tackles and turnovers when not one but two former professional rugby players paid them a visit.

Former England captain Martin Johnson was joined by former Exeter lock Peter Short to coach children at Pilgrims School after one of the student’s father won a coaching session at a charity auction.

Philip Guest handed over the prize he was awarded to his son Freddie in the hope he and his classmates would benefit more from the personal session.

Mr Guest won the prize at the Sparks charity ball earlier in the year. The charity aims to raise funds for medical research to help with specialist treatment for children affected by clinical conditions.

Head of sport at Pilgrims, Andrew Short, invited his brother Peter along when they found out about the training session.

Peter now works as director of rugby at Canford School in Dorset.

He said: “My brother gave me fair warning about this afternoon’s activities which we both thought would work really well for the children. I played with Martin at Leicester in 2003 when I was a young player and watching him do some coaching was too good an opportunity to pass up.

“It’s also a good chance to see the boys here before they come to Canford. It gives us a chance to assess their abilities and see how they’re going to develop and which positions they’d be most suited to.”

Martin Johnson said: “It’s just lovely to see such enthusiasm for the sport. It’s wonderful to see kids get so passionate about it and it’s all about the participation. Plus it gives me a chance to have a runabout as well.”