Youngsters from Manchester played a part in creating history as they participated in this weekend’s Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup, hosted by Sale Sharks.
Since being launched during the 2008-09 season, the nationwide grassroots rugby event has seen more than 70,000 children take part.
This season sees the tenth anniversary edition of the event – the ‘Testimonial Season’ – with Sale Sharks hosting a festival at Manchester Rugby Club on Sunday.
Youngsters across the Under-11s and Under-12s ranks at Altrincham Kersal RFC, Bowdon RUFC, Littleborough RUFC, Manchester RFC, Sale FC, Stockport RUFC and Wilmslow RUFC were among over 40 teams in attendance, and even got the chance to strut their stuff in front of a host of Sale Sharks players, including first team stars Paolo Odogwu and Jake Pope.
And while they missed out on the chance to attend next May’s Aviva Premiership Rugby Final, despite displaying plenty of skill and effort, Altrincham winger Jack Berry insisted he had loved every minute of the experience.
“Last year I played in the Land Rover tournament and it’s great to be back,” said the 10-year-old, a season ticket holder at Sale Sharks who attends St Anne’s Church of England Primary school pupil in Sale.
“I love the tournament because it is a great opportunity to hang out with friends.
“The teams we are playing against were very good, but I like the challenge this creates because it helps us to get better as a team.
“The tournament was very tough, but really enjoyable. Playing here will really help me work on my defensive lines, an area of my game I’m looking to improve on.”
Teams from across the county will compete at various festivals hosted by the 12 Aviva Premiership Rugby clubs this season, with the opportunity to earn a trip to the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final on May 26, where they will meet a Land Rover rugby ambassador, join in a Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup Parade at half-time and hear which of them has won a club MVP award.
Mancunian egg-chasers did at least get the chance to rub shoulders with rugby’s elite, and Odogwu admitted he had been impressed with what he had seen, in particular stressing the importance of grassroots rugby.
“It’s been great coming down to watch all the kids – it takes me back to when I first started getting into rugby at my secondary school,” said the winger.
“I thought back to when I used to be the same size as everyone!
“It’s great that such a big company like Land Rover is taking such an interest in the game.
“The sport is growing at such a rapid pace and the fact that companies such as Land Rover are backing the game at grassroots level shows just how much of an impact that rugby can have in the years to come.”
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