By Luke Baker
Blackheath U11s’ head coach Steve Harrison wants his starlets to make the most of their Twickenham experience, insisting they fully deserve their time on the big stage.
As Saracens and Northampton Saints do battle to determine who walks away with this year’s top prize at the Aviva Premiership Final next Saturday (May 31), the hallowed Twickenham turf will be graced by Blackheath’s young guns at half-time.
And much like Sarries and Saints, Blackheath faced an arduous journey to make it to Rugby HQ as they came out on top of the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup festival hosted by Harlequins in October.
Blackheath finished top of the pile as the great and the good of grassroots rugby came together and their prize is a spot in the Parade of Champions during half-time of the Aviva Premiership Grand Final.
And after toppling all those before them to make it to Twickenham, Harrison is urging his players to soak up the experience as they share the spotlight with their idols.
“The kids are really looking forward to it - it will be an amazing experience for them,” he said.
“A lot of them support Harlequins and it was the Harlequins’ version of the competition that they won, so it is a great opportunity for them to go to Twickenham and represent Quins after they just missed out.
“They were really chuffed to win the Land Rover Cup and the team spirit is great.
“It’s nice that there’s some rugby for them at the end of May and that they get such a great reward, they were delighted when they found out they had the chance to go to Twickenham.”
Launched in 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 while some of Blackheath U11s’ Twickenham experience will start and end next Saturday, world cup winner Lewis Moody is adamant the occasion will continue to have a positive effect on their lives.
“The teams taking part in the Parade of Champions worked hard to win their respective cup competitions and they fully deserve this fantastic reward,” Moody said.
“The kids will get to see and experience Twickenham and be on centre stage, get to walk on to the pitch and they will be walking on the same grass that their international heroes will be walking on in a year’s time at the World Cup.
“My first game at Twickenham was when I was 18 I think for the England Under-21s and it was before or after one of the internationals and it was still an amazing occasion.
“There was a bit of a sparse crowd then but for these kids it was be a packed house as it is just before the kick-off so they will get the experience the noise and atmosphere which is fantastic.”
Lewis Moody is a Land Rover ambassador.
Land Rover supports grassroots rugby and provides the opportunity for 7000 youngsters to take part in the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup.
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