Newcastle Falcons’ Sinoti Sinoti and Rob Hawkins believe this weekend’s biggest ever Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup was a hugely important event for rugby in the North East.
Hawkins and Sinoti were two of many Falcons’ players who spent time meeting youngsters and signing autographs on Sunday, as more than 1,200 under-11 and under-12 players took part in the festival at Kingston Park Stadium and Bullocksteads Sports Grounds.
Rugby in the North East received a real boost this year after St James’ Park hosted three World Cup games, and it seems the sport is thriving in the area based on the turnout at the Falcons’ Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup, as the maximum capacity of 70 teams signed up three months before the event took place.
Hawkins, who knows more than most about the value of community work through his role as a volunteer special constable with Northumbria Police, grew up playing for his dad’s team Bridgwater before moving to Bath.
Hawkins said: "Days like this are hugely important for not only the kids but also the club and the area.
"I think it’s widely accepted that it is a big football area around here so the more we can get kids in the area involved with rugby then the better it is going to be for Falcons and North East rugby as a whole.
"Premiership Rugby clubs are very good at getting the community involved. It happens all around the country and it is hugely important to the development of the kids and also for the development of rugby in this country as a whole."
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 Cup getting the chance to go to the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final at Twickenham on 28 May.
Samoa international Sinoti Sinoti added: "I think having events like the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup is majorly important for the young kids and the city as a whole.
"It helps promote the sport to young kids and gives them a starting base when it comes to skills then if they continue to develop then they could go on to become Falcons’ players.
"In my country they try to have these kinds of events from a young age and it really helps the players when it comes to their game as they get older."
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.