A taste of the Premiership

Alnwick U12s at the Newcastle Falcons Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup competition. Picture by onEdition
Alnwick U12s at the Newcastle Falcons Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup competition. Picture by onEdition

He may have missed out on the chance of walking out at Twickenham, but Alnwick Under 12 starlet James Etterley insisted he had still loved every minute of his Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup experience.

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.

And it was the turn of Newcastle Falcons earlier this month to host more than 60 different teams in their Under 11 and Under 12 rugby tournaments at Kingston Park.

In total, more than 7,000 children will participate over the course of the campaign as they go in search of a spot in the Parade of Champions during half-time of the Aviva Premiership Grand Final.

And while Etterley was not able to lift the Under 12s Cup trophy for a spot at Rugby HQ, his team narrowly missing out on a place in the quarter-finals, the 11-year-old remained proud of his team.

“I’ve played in three of these tournaments and I think they’re great fun,” said the Dr Thomlinson’s Middle School, Rothbury, student.

“I like that you get to play so many matches in one day so you get so much experience.

“You don’t just play against teams that are better than you, you play against teams of different levels and get tested at different things.

“I love tackling and I’d love to be a rugby player when I’m older because you’re always thinking and trying to predict what players are going to do next.”

Casting an eye over proceedings was Newcastle Falcons academy star Callum Chick, who was scouted at the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup while competing for Ponteland RFC Under 12s.

And the England Under 18 international admitted some of his fondest memories are of playing in the tournament.

“I got spotted playing in the final. The Falcons just saw me there and decided to take me on,” the Newcastle back row explained.

“My Ponteland team won the match and got to go down to Twickenham for the champions parade and as a child getting to walk around a pitch like that was such a great experience.

“This tournament is so beneficial to youngsters, because as a result of it being backed by Land Rover and Premiership Rugby, it gets so many more different teams participating in it.

“You can see that players who play in this tournament are enjoying themselves and that’s what it’s about at this age – just enjoying playing rugby.”