Topsham U12s will be part of May’s Aviva Premiership Rugby Final at Twickenham after booking their spot at a festival organised by Exeter Chiefs at the weekend.
Topsham 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 Exeter Saracens 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.
Topsham Rugby Club 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 the team has won Land Rover MVP award.
Topsham played with maturity beyond their years and made it through their group with a combination of brave tackling, crisp passes and slick off-loads.
The tournament was organised by Exeter Chiefs and saw Topsham play in a pool alongside Bideford, Sidmouth, Perranporth and Exeter Saracens before progressing to a secondary phase where they locked horns with Torquay Athletic, Kingsbridge and Ivybridge – in total more than 30 teams took part in the festival.
“It feels so good to have won the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup, but we’re exhausted now!” said 11-year-old William Olney.
“We did so well despite a poor performance at the start of the day, but we got much better throughout the tournament.
“We really wanted to win. It’s amazing that we get to go to Twickenham and I’m so excited. It was a great thing to work towards.
“I’ve watched all my heroes play there before and now I get to go on the pitch myself.”
Joining Topsham at Twickenham will be North Dorset Rugby Club U11s after they also earned the opportunity to take part in the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup Parade.
North Dorset were paired in a pool with Newton Abbot, Exeter Youth, Wimborne and Ivybridge.
“It’s amazing that we are going to Twickenham. I told my team that we were going to win!” said 10-year-old Samuel Gill.
“It was exciting and energising when they called out North Dorset. We’re such a small team so it’s amazing for the club to get this opportunity.
“I’ve been to Twickenham twice and now I can’t wait to go back for a third time. I can’t wait to go on the pitch.
“I’ve really enjoyed the day and I’d definitely give it ten out of ten.”
Exeter Chiefs star Ollie Atkins was also at Exeter Saracens Rugby Club to support and sign autographs, and admitted he would not be surprised if some of the youngsters on display joined them in the professional ranks.
“It’s fantastic to see so many young kids throwing a rugby ball around,” said the lock. “It’s great for grassroots rugby, and to have all these kids out playing the game on a fantastic day is awesome for the sport.
“It’s massively important for me and the club to be here supporting the youngsters, so many of these kids and their parents rock up to Sandy Park on a weekend to support us so this is the least we can do.
“This is where rugby all starts. This is the most fun they’re going to have and it’s so important we get kids involved at a young 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 continues to champion grassroots rugby through Premiership Rugby and the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup. @LandRoverRugby #WeDealInReal.