The Aviva Premiership Rugby Final may still be seven months away but youngsters from Market Harborough are already counting down the days – thanks to their efforts and skill at last weekend’s Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup.
Market Harborough Under-12s took to the field for the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup hosted by Northampton Saints in the shadow of Franklin’s Gardens.
Not only did they get to strut their stuff in front of onlooking Saints player Jamie Elliott, but the players also secured the opportunity to appear at next May’s Aviva Premiership Rugby Final at Twickenham, where they will take part in a special half-time parade.
Nearly 20 under-12 teams took part in the grassroots rugby festival – which is celebrating its 10th anniversary year and has seen more than 70,000 children take part to date – while the Harborough players also got the chance to go on the pitch at half-time during Saints’ game against Wasps.
Harborough were drawn in a group with Old Northamptonians and Sudbury and opened with a four-try bonus point win over the former with scores from Fabian Powell, Harry Slaughter, Oscar Considine and Ollie Bunce.
The Suffolk tourists were next and the outcome was identical with Slaughter scoring a hat-trick and Powell also touching down again.
That meant a maximum haul of points as Harborough continued into one of two new cup groups alongside Ampthill and Derby.
Against Ampthill, tries from Powell, Slaughter and Ned Bellamy secured a 3-0 win before Slaughter (2) and Powell continued their scoring form to seal another 3-0 win over Derby to send Harborough into the final.
There, they were up against Northampton Old Scouts, but the Harborough team booked their place at Twickenham as Powell scored both tries in a 2-0 victory.
“The chance to go on the pitch at Franklin’s Gardens was awesome especially because there were thousands of people there,” said 11-year-old Bunce, a Leicester Grammar School pupil.
“I’m captain and it’s really fun, I like bossing the team round a lot, telling them to spread out wide and such.
“This tournament is good because we played against loads of teams from around the country that we’ve never played before.
“I’m not a Saints fan, I support Leicester Tigers. It’s really fun playing here though because I’ve never played here before.”
As well as taking part in the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup Parade during next May’s Final, Market Harborough can also look forward to meeting a Land Rover rugby ambassador at Twickenham and hear which of them has won a club MVP award.
They got a taste of rubbing shoulders with rugby’s elite when they met Saints player Elliott on Saturday and he admitted he had been impressed with what he had seen, in particular stressing the importance of grassroots rugby.
“It’s great to get kids involved in grassroots rugby and get them down to see what they could get towards one day — Premiership rugby,” Elliott said.
“There was a lot of effort going in and a lot of fun going on.”
Land Rover is celebrating its ‘Testimonial Season’; ten years of the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup. The national series of grassroots rugby festivals is testament to Land Rover’s continued support of grassroots rugby through its ‘We Deal In Real’ campaign. Follow @LandRoverRugby #WeDealInReal