While European rugby returned this weekend, several under-11 and under-12 teams were fully focused on this season’s Aviva Premiership Rugby Final with two of them booking their spot at the showpiece through the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup.
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.
In total, more than 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 at rugby HQ.
There were plenty of potential stars on show on Sunday at Reading Abbey Rugby Club, with 40 different teams taking to the field from as far as Bournemouth and Sudbury in under-11s and under-12s tournaments.
When the dust had settled, Maidenhead under-11s and Guildford under-12s were confirmed as the two sides which will now take part in the Parade of Champions during half-time of the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final at Twickenham on 28 May 2016.
Cameron Barr was full-back for the Guildford under-12s side which edged out Aylesford Bulls in the final by one try to zero, and he couldn’t believe his luck. The 12-year-old who lives in Horsham, said: “I thought we played really well as a team throughout. We work a lot on defence in training and we used that to good effect.
“It feels amazing to know I am going to be going on the pitch at Twickenham, I cannot wait.
“I really enjoyed the whole day and it made the event so much better that it was linked with London Irish.
“I absolutely love playing rugby and it is great that the prize for the tournament is to go on the pitch at Twickenham. This has definitely been one of the best tournaments I have played in.”
In the under-11s final, Maidenhead scored five unanswered tries to beat Tadley Tigers, much to 10-year-old Charlie Myall’s delight.
“The event has been amazing and so much fun to play in,” said Myall. “I enjoyed the tournament so much from the minute it started. We didn’t let in a try in all our matches which is great.
“It is fantastic that we get to go to Twickenham. I really want to play there one day and maybe I could even do it as captain of England in the future.
“It is really cool that we get to go there for the Aviva Premiership Final and the players will be brilliant and really fun.”
There were seven London Irish players at Sunday’s leg of the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup, mingling with youngsters and their families before presenting the winners with their medals and trophies.
One of them was centre Dominic Waldouck who won the Aviva Premiership Rugby title and European Cup during his time at Wasps but learned his trade playing for Richmond’s junior sides in tournaments like Sunday’s competition.
Waldouck, who joined London Irish from Northampton Saints in the summer, said: “Most of the players started out playing mini rugby and our careers started with days like this so it is great to come down and offer the young players our support.
“It is good that clubs like London Irish host these events. I think the brilliant thing about rugby is that there is a close link between the professional game and the grassroots. London Irish’s presence here just highlights that point.
“It was really great to see so many kids out here having a good time, which is what rugby is all about at their age.”
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 aims to champion grassroots rugby. To find out more about the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup, visit premiershiprugby.com/landrovercup. Follow @LandRoverRugby #WeDealInReal