He may have missed out on the chance of walking out at Twickenham, but Hemel Hempstead Camelot Rugby Club U11 starlet Freddie Fletcher insisted he had still loved every minute of his Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup experience.
Launched during 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.
The first event of the season took place on Sunday as Wasps hosted U11s and U12s mini rugby teams at Farnham Royal Rugby Club.
In total over 7,000 children will participate over the course of the campaign as they go in search of a spot in the ‘Parade of Champions’ during half-time of the Aviva Premiership Grand Final.
While Fletcher was not able to lift the U11s Cup trophy for a spot at Rugby HQ, Camelot did not leave empty handed as they secured the Shield with a win over Aylesbury Tigers, and the 10-year-old was focusing on the positives.
“It’s not been one of those cold days where we’re all shivering and it’s not very nice to play,” said the Boxmoor Primary School student.
“Today was really hot and it was all about having fun. We’re enjoying running around passing the ball and just getting down to playing rugby.
“Playing against teams you don’t normally face is good because it improves you, and professionals have to get used to travelling around and playing strange teams too.
“I like the teamwork involved in rugby, and the fact that I can play with my friends.”
While Fletcher was part of the U11 X team, Camelot also entered an U11 Y team that lost out in the semi-finals of the Vase competition, and the U12 side exited the Shield at the same stage.
But U12 prop Noah Sheridan was rewarded for his sterling efforts by receiving the Land Rover ‘Spirit of Rugby’ award and winning a trophy, two tackle shields and a tackle bag for the club to boot.
The award was given to the 11-year-old for being the one player out of over 600 on the day who most epitomised the true spirit of rugby, playing with true grit and determination and showing exemplary fair play throughout.
And the humble John F Kennedy Catholic School student was just thrilled to have been involved.
“I found that tournament enjoyable and very fun, but very tough,” he said. “I got all the tries for my team, but it’s not just about me. Rugby is about everyone who plays.
“It’s fun playing prop, I have always played there. I’m quite often at the bottom of the pile and I’m really proud to get this award.”
Hemel Hempstead were not the only representatives from the area in action as Tring U11s also bid for success, but were eventually conquered by Aylesford Bulls in the semi-finals of the Plate.
> Land Rover supports grassroots rugby and provides the opportunity for over 7,000 youngsters to take part in the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup each season. Keep up to date with the latest Land Rover rugby activity by following @LandRoverRugby on Twitter.