Just a stone’s throw from England Rugby HQ, Cranbrook U12s sealed an unforgettable trip to Twickenham next month by triumphing at this weekend’s Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup.
The Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup is a nationwide series for U11 and U12 teams, with all 12 Aviva Premiership Rugby clubs hosting a tournament, and on Good Friday, 28 teams from south west London and beyond descended on Kneller Hall as Harlequins held theirs.
Kent outfit Cranbrook were victorious on the day and earned the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go to the Aviva Premiership Rugby final at Twickenham on Saturday May 27, where they will meet an England 2003 Rugby World Cup winner and be part of a Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup Parade at half-time, as well as discovering which of themhas won a club MVP award.
With England Rugby HQ peering out across the horizon, Cranbrook U12s captain and Harlequins supporter Max Fellows helped his team secure their own memorable Aviva Premiership Rugby final experience.
“I’m very excited that we’re going to the game - I’ve never been to one before and it feels great,” said 12-year-old Fellows, who is a pupil at Claverham Community College.
“I’m a Harlequins fan and I’ve not been to Twickenham yet but I’m really looking forward to it.
“The Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup was good and exciting. We played lots of games.
“I’ve been to a few big tournaments before but never one as good as this. There was just a variety of teams that we played against, and that was exciting.
“The games were tough and because it was a different range of teams, there was a different range of difficulty but all in all, it was very good.
“I think team-work and working together was what got us through.”
Teddington U11s also earned the right to head to Twickenham and will enjoy the same VIP treatment as Cranbrook U12s.
Launched during the 2008-09 season, the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup is the first national grassroots tournament officiated by Aviva Premiership Rugby and run in conjunction with all 12 clubs.
Over 7,000 children take part in the competition each season, with an U11 and U12 team from each Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup getting the chance to go to May’s Aviva Premiership Rugby Final.
Harlequins hooker Charlie Piper, who helped England win a third World Rugby U20 Championship title in the space of four years in Greater Manchester last year, was on hand to give out prizes and sign autographs alongside team-mates Owen Evans and James Lang.
The former Horsham colt said: “It was really good to see all those kids out showing what they can do and putting what they practice in training onto the pitch on Good Friday.
“We had similar tournaments when I was younger but nothing quite this big or associated with a club, so it’s good to have that association and get all of those community teams involved.
“You’ve got Twickenham looking over you and it just gives you a massive incentive to do well, and I said to a couple of the guys that asked questions that there’s always people watching, so if you impress, you can push on and you don’t know where you can get to.
“When I was at their age, I started at the academy at Harlequins and I’ve gone all the way through, so it really shows what these community clubs do for Harlequins when it comes to getting players all the way through to the first team.
“It feels like they’re getting players playing, which is the main thing – getting participation up within the local community, which is always good, and it was great to see them all out there.”