They may not have walked away with the top prize at the weekend’s Land Rover Premiership Cup tournament, but Fairford Rugby Club overcame some considerable adversity to be selected for the Spirit of Rugby Award.
Launched during the 2008-09 season, the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup is the first national grassroots tournament officiated by Premiership Rugby and run in conjunction with all 12 Premiership Rugby clubs.
And it was the turn of London Welsh on Sunday to host under-11s and under-12s mini rugby teams at Witney RFC, with Fairford’s under-12s one of the many teams in attendance, picking up tickets for the Exiles upcoming league clash with Bath Rugby as part of their prize.
In total, over 7,000 children will participate over the course of the season as they go in search of a spot in the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup Parade of Champions during half-time of the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final 2015.
Gloucestershire club Fairford were close to pulling out of the event when it became clear that several of their first-team players would be unavailable.
But those who were able to make it to the tournament were intent on representing the club, and so, along with the help of several players from the other clubs in Fairford’s group, the youngsters were able to fully participate in a memorable tournament.
It was a narrative that didn’t go unnoticed by the community managers and referees who singled the team out for recognition.
And despite not qualifying for the semi-finals, starlet Tom Mundy admitted he just appreciated being a part of the day after receiving the Spirit of Rugby trophy from Exiles stars Seb Jewell, Will Robinson and Josh McNally.
“It’s an absolutely great feeling to get the award,” the 12-year-old said.
“The reason we came is because we love rugby so much and we want to play as much as we can, so it has been great to be able to play the sport we love here.
“We have also got to say a big thank you to the players from the other clubs who helped us – they played really well and fitted straight in, so we need to congratulate them for that.
“I am so excited to be going to the London Welsh game against Bath, it’s a brilliant prize!
“The tackle bags will definitely be getting some use as well – it’s been a great day all round.”
Fairford coach David Bull was barely able to hide his pride at the performance of his team and their reaction to being without so many players on the day.
“I am so pleased with the entire group – they played superbly and tried so hard throughout the whole competition,” the 40-year-old said.
“They represented the club superbly and did themselves and Fairford Rugby Club a lot of credit, so the Spirit of Rugby award is a perfect way to cap a fantastic day.”
Land Rover supports grassroots rugby and provides the opportunity for over 7,000 youngsters to take part in the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup each season. Keep up to date with the latest Land Rover rugby activity by following @LandRoverRugby on Twitter.