One of West Hartlepool and Cockermouth will take a giant stride towards Twickenham when they meet in a blockbuster Counties 1 Championship clash in the Papa Johns Community Cup second round. 

Strawberry How will play host to two of the country’s most in-form sides on Saturday 15 April. Cockermouth, who finished second in their league, take on Counties 1 Durham and Northumberland champions West Hartlepool, who won all 22 of their league games this term. 

West Hartlepool ran out 28-21 winners at Didsbury in the first round of the Papa Johns Community Cup and for their coach Jamie Connolly, another new adventure is what the cup is all about. 

“It’s a great opportunity to visit new places and test ourselves against new opposition,” he said. 

“It’s about two hours to the Lake District over the Pennines, a similar amount of time as it was to Didsbury, so we’re doing it the long way! 

“But that’s part and parcel of Cup rugby, isn’t it? It’s about getting the boys together on the bus and going to places you haven’t been before. 

“You’re on your doorstep for most of the league, so it’s good to get together on the bus, to take on different people and make new friends.”

Opponents Cockermouth progressed to the second round after another tense encounter, edging league champions Upper Eden RUFC 18-15 away from home in a game that could have gone either way. 

The inaugural edition of the Papa John’s Community Cup has already produced a landmark day in the club’s calendar.

“It's one of the biggest games we've had at the club for many years,” said Cockermouth fixture secretary and Cumbria RFU President Brian Mitchelhill, ahead of his side’s second round clash.

“The cup allows us to play against different teams and you can make it a really big day for your club,” he said.

“We're hopeful of a biggish crowd, good revenue in the club and a good game of rugby against completely different opposition.

“When you look at West Hartlepool’s record, they’ve amassed 105 points over the season, which is no mean feat, because they have been playing some good sides by the looks of it. 

“They must be a powerful side to be able to run through a season unbeaten.

“But we'll look forward to the opportunity, Upper Eden were unbeaten until we played them in the league earlier in the season. We ended their undefeated record, so we would be hopeful that we may be able to end West Hartlepool’s undefeated record too.”

For Mitchelhill and his side there is no greater carrot than the chance of playing a final at Twickenham.  

“There is a lot of excitement,” he said. 

“I think it means everything to players to play at Twickenham. 

“We play rugby union at grassroots level, but everybody watches the England team playing at Twickenham and espouses to be able to reach those dizzy heights at some time in their career.”

While it’s the end of the road this year for Upper Eden, club chair Neil Marston is looking forward to watching the rest of the tournament unfold.  

“While it was disappointing not to win our Cup match, it was great to see how the two sides supported each other, with the Cockermouth guys all congratulating us as the RFU President Nigel Gillingham presented our captain Will Birkbeck with the Cumbria 1 league trophy, after we’d won the league for the second season on the bounce. I am extremely proud of what this team have achieved over the past two seasons. We then wished Cockermouth all the best for the rest of the Papa Johns Community Cup after they beat us, and I hope they go all the way now.”

For more about the Papa Johns Community Cup, including where to find next week’s men’s draw, visit