Juniors given Kingston Park experience

Alnwick U11's at the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup in Newcastle.
Alnwick U11's at the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup in Newcastle.

Youngsters from Alnwick Rugby Club were given a taste of the big stage on Sunday as they competed at Kingston Park in the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup.

Before the clash between Newcastle Falcons and Harlequins, more than 30 junior sides played for the chance to earn a spot in the Parade of Champions.

This will take place at half-time of next year’s Aviva Grand Final at Twickenham.

Despite the best efforts of the U11 and U12 Alnwick sides, neither managed to advance from their groups.

But Alnwick U11 player Ben Pettifer refused to be too downbeat, insisting that the chance to play in such a big competition was a great experience.

“It was pretty hard out there because all of the teams that play in the Land Rover Cup are really good, so it was tough,” said the 11-year-old.

“We arrived with high hopes because if you don’t aim high then there is no point, but it was a tough tournament and we just couldn’t get through in the end.

“Our season has been okay so far, but we were all looking forward to this competition because it is one of the biggest we do.

“Playing at Kingston Park was amazing and getting to watch the match was fantastic because we all want to be playing at that level one day.”

The U11 and U12 finals were played at half-time of the Falcons match, with Northern and Morpeth winning the age groups respectively and are now London-bound.

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 that the future of rugby in the North East is in good hands after seeing Alnwick and company in action.

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