DUDLEY Kingswinford youngsters went toe-to-toe with the top teams in the county as the 2014 Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup drew to a close at their home ground on Sunday.
Each top-flight English club has hosted an age-group festival, with the winners landing a spot in the ‘Parade of Champions’ during half-time of the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final.
Worcester Warriors welcomed 30 teams from across the county to Heathbrook on Sunday morning and, despite the blustery conditions, the youngsters put on a superb display.
With Worcester hooker Ed Shervington watching on from the sidelines – and handing out trophies to the champions – DKdidn’t manage to win but under-11s coach Simon Hart was delighted with his team’s performance.
“The turnout is amazing and the cheering and support is just unbelievable.
“Every team has different strengths and that helps your players to develop and adapt to different styles.
“That can only improve you as a player and of course they haven’t won and their heads might go down a little but if you play against someone and you see how he does something better than yourself it can only help you.
“It’s massive to have tournaments like this for the growth of the game and I don’t think there’s any better place than being out here and letting the kids play.”
Now in its sixth year, the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup is the first national grassroots tournament run in conjunction with all 12 top-flight clubs and showcases some of the country’s best young players.
And Shervington was blown away by the standard on show at Heathbrook and thinks that one or two of the players could one day be plying their trade in the Premiership.
“The amount of kids that are here is outstanding and the talent that is on show is incredible,” he said.
“It’s a really impressive set-up and it’s nice to come here and have some of the kids coming up to you and asking for an autograph.
“Anything we can do for these young ones to inspire them to go further is what we need in this sport.
“The more kids we get playing in these tournaments the better it is for rugby and we want to do anything we can to help as players.
“You can see the passion for the sport and, while it’s not a very nice day, there’s hundreds and hundreds out here so it’s definitely going in the right direction.”
Land Rover supports grassroots rugby and provides the opportunity for 7,000 youngsters to take part in the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup.