Rugby is back with a bang in England after months of frustration caused by the Covid pandemic, meaning it was an opportunity for junior festivals to take centre stage last weekend as the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup returned at Exeter Chiefs.
Teams form Torquay and Paignton were on the pitch as Crediton Rugby Club hosted an exciting under-11 and under-12 grassroots developmental festival on Sunday.
Youngsters finally got the opportunity to lace up their boots again, with a myriad of teams from the West Country and surrounding areas locking horns.
This successful series of nationwide events, now running for almost two decades and organised by Land Rover – the official vehicle of Premiership Rugby – has seen more than 100,000 children take part to date, with some realising their dreams of going on to play for Premiership Rugby clubs.
And for Paignton U12 star Owen McEvoy, who has experienced a frustrating time away from the pitch, it was a memorable experience as his side finally got back to playing.
McEvoy, 11, said: “I’ve been playing for five years. I’m really happy to be playing against other teams with my club. It’s just nice to get out.
“I love all the elements to it but I love playing in a big team and the contact side - it’s quite fun. I’d like to be a player when I’m older.”
Torquay U12 player Max Winter, 11, said: “I’m very excited to be here today. I quite like getting with friends and enjoying the sport. I started when I was six so I’ve been playing for about five or six years.”
The competition was a fantastic spectacle for those in attendance, with the highly competitive fixtures providing a meaningful platform for youngsters to develop their rugby skills.
There will be an U12 ‘winning’ team at each festival, with the prize being a Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup Trophy and a trip to Twickenham for the Premiership Rugby Final, with the successful U11 team based on their demonstration of the core values of the game during the festival, respect, togetherness, strength of character and composure.
Graduates of the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup have gone on to realise their rugby ambitions, with several players now playing for Premiership Rugby clubs, including Louis Lynagh at Harlequins and Callum Chick at Newcastle Falcons.
Land Rover ambassador Lewis Moody, who racked up 71 caps for England, added: “The return of the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup across the country is a huge boost for grassroots rugby.
“It is one of the longest standing national series of rugby festivals for under-11 and under-12 youngsters and is always a date in season that clubs look forward to being part of.
“It cannot be underestimated how important these grassroots rugby events are for rugby in the UK. Youngsters will learn vital lessons by playing in these festivals, that will serve them on and off the rugby pitch.
“To date, over 100,000 youngsters have taken part in the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup, with several players going on to play for Premiership Rugby clubs. This shows the pathway these youngsters can take on their rugby journey, thanks to Land Rover’s support of grassroots rugby.”
Land Rover has been supporting grassroots rugby in the UK for nearly two decades, through the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup. Follow the latest Land Rover rugby activity on Twitter @LandRoverRugby #DiscoverRugby
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