Pontefract Rugby Club are dedicating their Twickenham tilt to those they have lost along the way.

Club chair Phil Atkinson lost his brother and 2nd XV star, Paul, to testicular cancer 20 years ago while former club president Neil Bowmer died suddenly in 2021.

This season, the Yorkshire-based club have already conquered Regional 2 North East and are now targeting a glorious league and cup double.

They play Walsall on Saturday knowing that a good win will keep them in the hunt for a Papa Johns Community Cup semi-final spot and the chance to play at one of sport’s most storied stadia.

Atkinson, 56, has been around the club since he was 14 and hopes the 1st XV can reward the entire Pontefract family with a momentous cup victory.

“I know it's cliché but it is a family,” he said.

“The club really rallied round me after Paul’s passing, what they did for me was fantastic so that’s where my loyalty comes from.

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“I became a sponsor of the club after that and that led to me becoming chairman and it’s a great bunch of people.

“We’re doing it for those guys who would give their eye teeth to be at Twickenham – lifelong rugby supporters who would never imagine that Pontefract would have the opportunity to play there.”

Atkinson stood down as Chair last year, feeling he had taken the club as far as he could following their promotion from Yorkshire One.

They defied the odds to secure back-to-back promotions which is fuelling their belief that they can stay the distance in the cup.

“We would have been happy with a mid-table finish but we’ve exceeded our expectations, stealing it at the end to pinch it off Moortown,” said Atkinson.

“We were not expecting to win the league at all but as the season has gone on, confidence has built in the squad.

“From a financial perspective it's been unbelievable, our social media following has grown, our membership numbers are up and we’ve got some great sponsorship off the back of this season too.

“We’ve come up against some very good teams in the Papa Johns Community Cup, we were pretty confident going into it and have found it to be very worthwhile, it’s really tested us.

“The lads have found it extremely beneficial to play against teams from different areas. New opposition has been great and we’re very happy with it.”

It could prove to be a memorable weekend right across the club, with the Under-17s colts in action in the Yorkshire Cup final on Sunday.

The picture is a little more complicated for the seniors, who will require a win at Walsall and other results going their way to make the final four.

Regardless of the outcome, the Papa Johns Community Cup has provided some fantastic memories for all concerned.

“Leek came to us with a good fan base, we had some great banter with them, there was a great atmosphere in the club house but boy was it a tough game of rugby,” Atkinson added.

“When we came off the field, we were all friends. We really feel like we’ve made new friends through the cup which we wouldn’t have made otherwise.”

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