Hemel Hempstead’s rugby youngsters had a big day to remember when they not only rubbed shoulders with World Cup winner Jason Robinson but also played a role in the Aviva Premiership Rugby final at Twickenham.
Exeter Chiefs were crowned English champions after beating Wasps in a thrilling game which went all the way to extra time, and Hemel’s under-12 players had a front-row seat thanks to their involvement with the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup – a nationwide series for under-11 and under-12 teams.
Following their efforts at the Saracens-hosted event earlier this season, Hemel were invited to take part in the Premiership Rugby Cup parade at half-time, as well as getting the chance to meet England 2003 World Cup winner Jason Robinson – who conducted a Q&A session with all 25 junior teams in attendance.
The Premiership Rugby Cup has seen nearly 68,000 children take part to date nationwide, and provides opportunities for under-11 and under-12 players to play, develop and excel in the game.
There was an extra-special moment for Hemel player Dylan Pethard, after he was also chosen to receive the club’s most valuable player award, which was handed out to an individual from each team.
“I’m very happy and privileged to win the MVP award from my team, and thanks go to my coach Paul and Dean, and also to the other players who are all my friends and have been there for me all the time,” said the 12-year-old Hemel Hempstead School pupil.
“Meeting Jason Robinson was really spectacular and a great surprise – I couldn’t have asked for anything else.
“He was saying that any one of us could be a professional player if we work hard enough, which was good to hear.
“We’ve done very well as a team this year. We’ve won the county title and most of our matches; it’s a great squad.
“Everyone comes down to training every time we have a session, and we work hard on our skills and try to do drills that the professionals do.
“Everyone puts in 100 per cent effort all the time and that’s definitely the reason for our success.
“It was very exciting to be at Twickenham for the final, although I thought Wasps would win. Going out onto the pitch was an incredible experience.”
Land Rover ambassador Jason Robinson was at this season’s final to meet hundreds of youngsters from the Premiership Rugby Cup grassroots rugby initiative.
Land Rover is committed to championing grassroots rugby and is continuing its ‘We Deal in Real’ campaign through programmes like the Premiership Rugby Cup.
Robinson was confident that playing such a key role in the final at Twickenham would help inspire the next generation of Premiership rugby players.
He said: “The kids had a fantastic day. They were all really excited to get out on the pitch and have some photos.
“You see the young English guys coming through now who are extremely talented. We’ve got to keep that pathway going and support these kids to achieve their ambitions – that’s what the Premiership Rugby Cup does.
“When you’re a kid you want to look up and see your heroes shining on the big stage, and have that desire to go on to do that yourself.
“All these kids have hopes and dreams of doing it themselves, and the Premiership this year has been fantastic and produced thrilling rugby.”
Land Rover is a proud supporter of grassroots rugby and has been a partner of the Premiership Rugby Cup for nearly a decade.
Its ‘We Deal in Real’ campaign champions grassroots rugby through Premiership Rugby and the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup.