Callum Chick admits he would not be where he is today had it not been for the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup, as he joined several Newcastle Falcons’ stars at the biggest ever edition of the festival on Sunday.
More than 1,200 under-11 and under-12 players from across the North East descended upon Kingston Park Stadium and Bullocksteads Sports Grounds as they looked to book their place at the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final on 28 May.
And it was a trip down memory lane for Chick who first came to the attention of Newcastle at one of their Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cups and will captain England Under-20s against Ireland U-20s at Kingston Park tonight.
"Without the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup, I would not have had the chance to be playing at the level that I am now so it was huge for me," the 19-year-old said.
"For me the festival was really good for my development. The Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup gave me the chance to play on the Kingston Park pitch and I really enjoyed it and that is important for the kids.
"For me just playing my rugby and enjoying myself has led to all of this; getting to play in the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup, then for the Newcastle Falcons’ Academy and then into the first team and the England Under-20s set-up.
"It has all happened so quickly for me and I am so happy. I would like to think that I have showed that you can go from playing at that local level to where I am now."
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 clubs.
More than 7,000 children take part with two teams from each club’s festival getting the chance to go to the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final at Twickenham on 28 May.
At the other end of the career spectrum, Samoa international Kane Thompson was another of the Newcastle Falcons’ players who was meeting the budding rugby players and signing autographs.
The 34-year-old said: "The Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup is great and it is really good to see the young kids enjoying their rugby in the North East where it is a growing sport alongside football.
"These kinds of events bring back good memories for me back in New Zealand growing up, where as soon as you could walk a rugby ball would be put into your hands.
"The numbers at the event just show how much rugby is growing in the region.
"Rugby at their age is all about getting the ball in your hands and enjoying yourself and you can see all of the kids having a lot of fun out there."
Land Rover is a proud supporter of grassroots rugby and a partner of the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup for nearly a decade. Land Rover’s ‘We Deal In Real’ campaign aims to champion grassroots rugby. Follow @LandRoverRugby #WeDealInReal.