Harlequins’ young rugby stars may have fallen just short of an Urban Rugby Squad National Festival final, but Croydon youngster Conor Oresanya was ecstatic after the chance to enjoy Sixways Stadium with his new friends.
Over 150 youngsters turned out at Worcester Warriors’ home ground to compete for the Urban Rugby Squad trophy and though Quins lost out to Wasps in the semi-final, 13-year-old Conor was over the moon with his first Premiership experience.
Representatives from every Premiership club and Championship side London Irish – including boys and girls from diverse backgrounds, many of who had never played rugby before – turned out in a fine day’s action at Sixways.
Northampton Saints were the winners on the day, but John Fisher School pupil Conor said it was an experience he would never forget.
He said: “It has been a brilliant day and it was great to get to the semi-final and play with my friends. Playing rugby with friends is the best feeling!
“My dad used to play rugby and I have been playing since I was about four, so playing on the pitch where professionals play is a bit overwhelming.
“You don’t expect to come and play at a ground like this at this age, but it has been a great experience. It was disappointing not to make the final, but you move on and keep playing!”
Though there could be only one winner, Dom Palacio – Schools Community Coach for Harlequins – was delighted with each and every member of his squad, and admitted it was a joy to see such a diverse group enjoying their rugby in a first-class environment.
“They have been ultra-competitive and have enjoyed the environment, big thank you to Worcester Warriors for putting it on,” the 36-year-old said.
“I don’t think the kids will realise where they have been until they see the stadium full on TV with all the professionals playing on it!
“It has been played in the right spirit, it has been perfect.
“These guys came from sessions throughout London and some from down in Brighton & Hove, a handful of them have played together before, but they have come together specifically for today.
“They have got better and better and we just lost the semi-final against Wasps!”
For more information about Premiership Rugby’s Urban Rugby Squad, run in partnership with BT Sport’s The Supporters Club, the broadcaster’s initiative that aims to build a better world through sport, and Restart Rugby, the Official Charity of The Rugby Players’ Association (RPA), please visit https://www.premiershiprugby.com/urban-rugby-squad/ and the join the conversation #RugbyChangingLives