Chichester rugby juniors enjoy taste of Twickenham - and meet World Cup winner Martin Johnson

Chichester under-11s at Twickenham
Chichester under-11s at Twickenham

The Gallagher Premiership Rugby season may be over for another year but memories of the 2019 final will live long in the memory for youngsters from Chichester under-12s and under-11s after their special day out at Twickenham Stadium.

Thanks to their involvement with the latest season of the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup, the two teams headed to rugby HQ where they shared the turf with World Cup winning captain Martin Johnson.

Chichester U12s enjoy their day

Chichester U12s enjoy their day

That came after they secured their spot at the showpiece event at the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup festival hosted by Bath Rugby.

Their reward for their efforts also included the chance to watch Exeter Chiefs and Saracens battle it out for the title as well as meeting with former England star Johnson pre-match.

Chichester under-12 player William Heaver was awarded the honour of being nominated for the Junior Land Rover Discovery of the Season award, and he said the whole day had been one to savour.

“I was so excited when I found out we got the opportunity to go to Twickenham and to be nominated for an award just tops it all off,” said Heaver. “I have been to Twickenham once or twice before, but never for the Premiership Rugby final so the whole day was really exciting.

“I was quite nervous when I found out we were going down to the pitch, but it felt amazing to know what the players must feel like when they walk out.

“I’m so proud of my team for getting there. They all put in lots of hard work and we were all so happy to have a fun day together at Twickenham.”

For the under-11s, Chichester’s Freddie Salmon was nominated for the Junior Land Rover Discovery of the Season award. He said: “My team did so well to be invited to watch the Premiership Rugby final and I was chuffed to find out I had been nominated for an award.

“We have made a lot of memories along the way and Twickenham is just the highlight of it all.

“We have been here before when we were in U7s and played a match on the pitch so I kind of knew what to expect, but it was still amazing to see the stadium. I was still so excited.

Rugby youngsters get a tasty bit of sponsorship
“I’m so proud to be a part of this team. We all enjoyed watching Saracens versus Exeter and it was great to see Owen Farrell because I really look up to him.”

The two Chi RFC teams were among 24 under-11 and under-12 teams in attendance for the final – representing two sides for each age category from the festivals hosted by each of the 12 Gallagher Premiership Rugby clubs throughout the season.

This is the 11th year of the national grassroots rugby initiative, with more than 85,000 youngsters participating in the event to date – enough to fill Twickenham Stadium.

Players such as Newcastle Falcons’ Callum Chick started life on the pitches of the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup, with Land Rover ambassador Johnson praising the opportunities afforded to players at a young age.

“It’s all about giving people the opportunity to play,” said Johnson.

“It’s great to see kids just playing and enjoying themselves. Being here at Twickenham, they will all have a dream that one day they’ll play here for their club or their country.

“I see lots of guys who didn’t get into rugby until their 20s and 30s and they wish they’d gotten into it when they were younger.

“We know about the health benefits but there are lots of life benefits of playing rugby too, it’s the entire thing, you get involved with something that’s bigger than the whole game.

“But, ultimately, I tell kids all the time, why do we play sport? Because we enjoy doing it. We enjoy playing with our team mates, the camaraderie of it, we enjoy the challenge, so anytime you can get people together is good.”

* Land Rover has heritage in rugby at all levels; from grassroots to elite, sharing and understanding the values at the heart of the game. Follow @LandRoverRugby