Rugby starlets won’t give up on Twickenham dream

Gosport & Fareham under-11s
Gosport & Fareham under-11s
Barry Bridgman gives orders of Gosport & Fareham. Picture: Neil Marshall

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Youngsters from Gosport & Fareham played their part in creating history when they participated in the London Irish-hosted Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup.

Since its launch during the 2008-09 season, the nationwide grassroots rugby event has seen more than 70,000 children take part.

And this season sees the 10th anniversary edition of the event, with a festival of rugby held at Henley RFC on Sunday.

Gosport & Fareham were one of more than 30 under-11 and under-12 teams in attendance, getting the chance to strut their stuff in front of a host of London Irish players, including academy star Tom Parton.

They missed out on the chance to attend next May’s Aviva Premiership Rugby final, despite displaying plenty of skill and effort.

But 11-year-old Ollie Smith insisted he loved every minute of the experience.

‘It’s always exciting to play in the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup because we know it is a big tournament and we always enjoy it,’ said the Alverstoke Junior School pupil.

‘It means a lot to us to come along because we can show what we are about and how we play as a team.

‘We felt very confident at the start of the day.

‘It would have meant a lot to us to have gone to Twickenham because we are all such big rugby fans.

‘It would have been a dream come true but we’ll be back.

‘I’m a big Saracens fan and I love watching Danny Care play, even though he doesn’t play for Saracens!’

Teams from across the country will compete at various festivals hosted by the 12 Aviva Premiership clubs this season.

They will battle to earn a trip to the Aviva Premiership 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.

Gosport & Fareham did at least rub shoulders with rugby’s elite.

And Parton admitted he had been impressed with what he had seen, in particular stressing the importance of grassroots rugby.

‘I’ve massively enjoyed watching the rugby,’ he said.

‘There has been so much talent on show and it’s good to see everyone having so much fun. There is such a good atmosphere and it was a great event all round.

‘It’s so important to support grassroots rugby, we all started at this level and this is where you learn your trade.

‘It’s where you get the experience and then you build up.

‘It’s important to show your talent as well as make new friends, and that’s what rugby is all about.’

n Land Rover is celebrating its ‘Testimonial Season’ – 10 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