Twickenham-bound

Morpeth RFC were the winners of the under 12's division at the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup in Newcastle. The successful squad are pictured with Nick Easter.
Morpeth RFC were the winners of the under 12's division at the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup in Newcastle. The successful squad are pictured with Nick Easter.
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MORPETH junior James Blackett admits he will be counting down the days until the Premiership final after booking his spot at Twickenham with victory in the Land Rover Cup.

Before Newcastle Falcons hosted Harlequins live on BT Sport on Sunday, more than 30 junior teams battled it out to earn a spot in the Parade of Champions at half-time of the Premiership final.

It was the interval at Kingston Park though that played host to the U11 and U12 Land Rover Cup finals to determine who would be starring at Twickenham on May 31.

And, despite the sheer numbers in attendance, Morpeth U12s ensured they stood out from the crowd as they beat Northern in the final in front of a 6,000-strong crowd.

This was the second straight victory for Morpeth after they claimed the U11 title last year but Blackett insists a run-out at rugby HQ is always a special occasion.

“Winning the Land Rover Cup was great because we won it last year in the U11s and there was a bit of extra pressure to defend our title,” said the 12-year-old.

“There is always a bit of extra pressure being the defending champions but we played well and deserved to win the trophy again.

“It was great playing in front of thousands of people at half-time and, although it was a bit nerve-wracking, it was something I will remember forever. And to think that I get to walk back out at Twickenham is so good because we all really enjoyed it last time and can’t wait to do it again.”

Launched during the 2008-09 season, the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup is the first national grassroots tournament officiated by Premiership Rugby and run in conjunction with all 12 clubs.

Casting his eye over the talent was Falcons’ Jamie Helleur and the centre admitted the future of rugby in the north east is in good hands after seeing Morpeth and co in action.

“I had a walk around in the morning for the pool games and was really impressed with what I saw and the finals were the same,” said Helleur.

“And the fact that they get to play at half-time of our match against Harlequins and in front of all these people is something they will not forget in a hurry I am sure.”

Land Rover supports grassroots rugby and provides the opportunity for 7,000 youngsters to take part in the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup.