The Aviva Premiership Rugby Final is always memorable and with this season’s campaign tighter and tenser than ever, this year’s showpiece is unlikely to be an exception.
And while the picture isn’t any clearer as to who will be battling it out for the silverware, London Irish Under-12s are now eagerly anticipating a trip to Twickenham after securing a spot thanks to the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup.
The Exiles youngsters sealed their place at the Harlequins’ leg of the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup held at Richmond Upon Thames College on Saturday.
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 28 May.
As the finest local under-12 rugby teams met under Twickenham Stadium’s watchful gaze at the nearby Richmond upon Thames College on Saturday, London Irish 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 match with Guildford in the final.
Matthew Durbridge played terrifically for the successful side and the 12-year-old, who has played at Twickenham before, admitted it will be extra-special to be back there with his London Irish teammates.
“I am very, very happy. I can’t wait to go back to Twickenham, and it feels even better after a tough game between two good sides,” the George Abbot School pupil said.
“I want to play for Harlequins when I am older, so to play in the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup here is extra special.
“We get to go to Twickenham, it is going to be fun. I have played there already, once when I was seven, then again when I was eight and when I was nine.
“When I played for Guildfordians we got to play on the big pitch during a league game.
“I can play anywhere in the backs, but my favourite player is Danny Care and I want to play scrum-half or centre for Harlequins when I am older.
“My favourite England player is Jonny Wilkinson and I like Brad Barritt too, even though he plays for Saracens.”
Harlequins’ Academy stars Stan South and Robbie Nairn were also at Richmond upon Thames College to support and sign autographs, and both admitted they would not be surprised if some of the youngsters on display joined them in the professional ranks.
South is a former Sutton and Epsom player and was happy to see his old team in action at the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup, even if London Irish scooped the ultimate prize.
“It is great to see the boys doing what I was doing – getting muddy and getting wet on a Saturday afternoon,” the England Under-20s lock said.
“I played in different Sunday leagues, but never got to play in anything like the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup, which seems really, really well run.
“We had a strong Sutton and Epsom side because we played with each other from Under-5s all the way up to Under-16s, we got to know each other really well and became pretty much like brothers.
“I think that is the brilliant thing about rugby, it brings people from different backgrounds together and makes them want to do the same thing – have fun and win on a rugby field.”
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. @LandRover_UK #WeDealInReal.