Exeter Chiefs emerged victorious at the Twickenham Stoop in a thrilling finale to Premiership Rugby’s Urban Rugby Squad National Tag Rugby Festival on Monday afternoon.
Squads from Leicester Tigers, Wasps, Bath Rugby, Harlequins, London Irish, Saracens, Gloucester Rugby, Sale Sharks and the Chiefs descended on Twickenham to showcase their skills, with the semi-finals and final played on the hallowed turf at the Stoop.
Exeter and Harlequins emerged as the final two after their entertaining brand of rugby saw off Leicester and Sale respectively in the semi-finals.
And it was fittingly tense final, with the two teams neck-and-neck throughout until a last-gasp try handed Exeter an 8-7 victory, leaving Chiefs community delivery manager Andrew Dudley – who led their coaching team on the day – over the moon.
“Any victory for us is amazing,” he said. “Quins put up a really good performance but we beat them last play of the game, which is pretty exciting. To win at their patch is always nice!
“They picked up what we have spoken about really well so we’re just chuffed. Hopefully they’ve had a good day at I’m sure it will be worth the travelling for us.
“They have really enjoyed themselves. Considering three or four months ago, these guys had no idea who each other were, to come together and play such talented opposition and do so well is really pleasing for all of us.”
Premiership Rugby's Urban Rugby Squad programme supports young people aged 14-16 from disadvantaged communities across England participating in regular sporting activity and personal development workshops that use rugby as inspiration on areas including anger management, drugs/alcohol misuse, sexual health and physical fitness assessment.
BT Sport Ambassador, Ugo Monye was watching the action, alongside Harlequins winger Marland Yarde, and he was impressed with what he saw.
“It's fantastic to be here, back at home,” said Monye. “I've been here for 14 years and it's a great privilege and reward for these guys and all the hard work they have put into the programme.
“Through rugby's core values, if they can take them off the pitch and into their communities and to their schools and home lives, then I think they are certainly winning.
“It's great to see that the passion I have for the game is being transferred to some of these players.
“I've been around the country and seen them play on some pretty awful pitches so it's a nice reward for them to play out here on the Stoop.”
The Urban Rugby Squad is a ground-breaking new initiative run by Premiership Rugby and its clubs which has seen hundreds of young people aged 14-16 from disadvantaged communities across England participate in regular sporting activity and personal development. The programme has received substantial backing from BT Sport, through its charitable initiative The Supporters Club and Restart Rugby, the Official Charity of The Rugby Players' Association (RPA). A documentary about the Urban Rugby Squad is on BT Sport 1 on 1 November. For more details see premiershiprugby.com/UrbanRugbySquad.
Pool A: Leicester Tigers 4 v 5 Harlequins, London Irish 3 v Saracens 7, Wasps 6 v 8 Leicester Tigers, Harlequins 6 v 4 Saracens, Wasps 8 v 10 Harlequins, Leicester Tigers 6 v 4 London Irish, Wasps 6 v 2 London Irish, Leicester Tigers 6 v 4 London Irish, Wasps 6 v 2 London Irish, Leicester Tigers 5 v 4 Saracens, Wasps 6 v 5 Saracens, Harlequins 13 v 8 London Irish
Pool B: Gloucester 9 v 13 Sale Sharks, Bath 2 v 5 Sale Sharks, Exeter Chiefs 14 v 5 Bath, Exeter Chiefs 9 v 4 Sale Sharks, Gloucester 6 v 5 Bath, Exeter Chiefs 13 v 5 Gloucester
SF1: Harlequins 11 v 8 Sale Sharks
SF2: Leicester Tigers 4 v 9 Exeter Chiefs
Final: Harlequins 7 v 8 Exeter Chiefs