Young Bedford Blues enjoy getting back into festival action

Bedford Blues Under 12sBedford Blues Under 12s
Bedford Blues Under 12s
Under 12s play in tournament at London Irish

By Oli Dickson Jefford, Sportsbeat

RUGBY is back with a bang in England after months of frustration caused by the Covid pandemic, meaning it was an opportunity for junior festivals to take centre stage this weekend as the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup returned to London Irish.

Hazelwood hosted an exciting Under-11 and Under-12 grassroots developmental festival on Sunday as youngsters finally got the opportunity to lace up their boots again, with a myriad of teams from Surrey, London, Berkshire, Sussex and surrounding areas locking horns.

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This successful series of nationwide events, now running for nearly two decades and organised by Land Rover – the Official Vehicle of Premiership Rugby – has seen more than 100,000 children take part to date, with some realising their dreams of going on to play for Premiership Rugby clubs.

And for Bedford Junior Blues star Harry Wilson, who has experienced a frustrating time away from the pitch, it was a memorable experience as his side finally got back to playing.

Wilson, 12, said: “I’m very excited about today as it’s our first tournament!

“I’d love to be like England star Maro Itoje when I’m older.”

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The competition was a fantastic spectacle for those in attendance, with the highly competitive fixtures providing a meaningful platform for youngsters to develop their rugby skills.

There will be an U12 ‘winning’ team at each festival, with the prize being a Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup Trophy and a trip to Twickenham for the Premiership Rugby Final, with the successful U11 team based on their demonstration of the core values of the game during the festival, respect, togetherness, strength of character and composure.

At Hazelwood, Teddington were chosen as the U11 winners while Amersham & Chiltern prevailed in the U12 event.

Graduates of the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup have gone on to realise their rugby ambitions, with several players now playing for Premiership Rugby clubs, including Louis Lynagh at Harlequins and Callum Chick at Newcastle Falcons.

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London Irish star Kyle Rowe, who attended the tournament just 24 hours after his hat-trick scoring heroics in a thrilling 34-34 draw against Saracens, said: “It’s great to see all the kids back, especially after Covid.

“Covid’s been hard for everyone, with kids not being able to come and play rugby and be with their friends. Now that restrictions are over it’s great to see the kids out and having fun.

“I think [the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup] was really big in my development. It just got me into playing, just having fun and just loving the game really. It looks like it’s been a real success.”

Land Rover has been supporting grassroots rugby in the UK for nearly two decades, through the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup. Follow the latest Land Rover rugby activity on Twitter @LandRoverRugby #DiscoverRugby