Hemel Hempstead Rugby Club U12s’ Daniel Jones and his team will be part of May’s Aviva Premiership Rugby Final at Twickenham after booking their spot at the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup organised by Saracens at the weekend.
Hemel Hempstead received the opportunity after taking part in the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup – a nationwide series for U11 and U12 teams – at the weekend at Mill Hill Rugby Club.
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.
Over 7,000 children take part in the competition each season, with two teams from each Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup getting the chance to go to the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final at Twickenham on 27 May.
England and Saracens full-back Alex Goode spoke about the importance of grassroots rugby: “Having the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup at Saracens is always a great day of rugby; youngsters look forward to it each year and the quality of rugby on show reflects this.
“For the teams taking part, they get the chance to play in meaningful fixtures and learn the core values of the game, something that is important from a grassroots level all the way to the elite.
“It is great to see support from the likes of Land Rover for the development of the game that is such a big part of my life.”
Jones and Hemel Hempstead U12s will be heading to Twickenham on May 27, where they will meet an England 2003 Rugby World Cup winner, join in a Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup Parade at half-time and hear which of them has won a club MVP award.
Hemel Hempstead played with maturity beyond their years and made it through their group with a combination of brave tackling, crisp passes and slick off-loads before just edging a tough second pool.
The tournament was organized by Saracens and saw Hemel Hempstead as one of more than 30 teams that took part in the festival.
“It felt really good to win and we had a great day. Winning topped it off,” said 11-year-old Jones.
“I think our quick passing helped us the most. We are very excited to get to Twickenham and it will mean a lot to get there.
“We got into the final last year and so to do again was great, and to win was fantastic. The atmosphere was great and it is awesome to play where the professionals have.
“We had worked really hard. We had prepared a lot in advance by working on our fitness through the summer.
“We are good because our forwards are strong but also really fit so they can make every ruck. We play at our pace.
“This tournament is one of the biggest of the year for us and so to win is great. There are so many children playing and so that is great for the game.”
Joining Hemel Hempstead at Twickenham will be Barnet Elizabethans U11s after they also earned the opportunity to take part in the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup Parade.
Barnet Elizabethans were paired in a pool with Tring RFC, Worthing Minis, Chestnut RFC, and Amersham and Chiltern RFC.
“It feels great to say we are going to Twickenham,” said Barnet Elizabethans’ Josh Heesom. “We feel very lucky to have been selected.
“We tried our best to put on a show and show off as much skill as possible and I think we did that.
“We have grown as a team and come together really well. We scored some really good tries.
“The tournament is a great idea and I hope it continues for a long time and we can come back next year and win it.”
Saracens academy star Nick Isiekwe was also at Mill Hill RFC to support and sign autographs, and admitted he would not be surprised if some of the youngsters on display joined him in the professional ranks.
“It’s great to have a competitive but fun day, allowing kids to express themselves because as a kid you want to run around and have fun,” the 18-year-old second row said.
“The enthusiasm from the coaches is great, really encouraging them to have fun, which is the main thing: rugby is about having fun, enjoying yourself and being with friends, and this kind of environment is great for that.
“It is good for the young guys to get the chance to play somewhere like this and I am very impressed with how good the skills were. These players are the future.
“You could see on and off the kids they were all having fun. The atmosphere was really positive and it will only help all these guys going forward.”
Land Rover is a proud supporter of grassroots rugby and has been a partner of the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup for nearly a decade. Land Rover’s ‘We Deal In Real’ campaign continues to champion grassroots rugby through Premiership Rugby and the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup. @LandRoverRugby #WeDealInReal.