FRAMPTON Cotterell and Dursley 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 Rendcomb College on Sunday, writes Paddy von Behr.
Each top-flight English club has hosted an age-group festival, in association with Land Rover, with the winners landing a spot in the 'Parade of Champions’ during half-time of the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final.
Gloucester Rugby welcomed 30 teams from across the county to Rendcomb and, despite the blustery conditions, the youngsters put on a superb display with Cherry and Whites winger Shane Monahan watching on from the sidelines and handing out trophies to the champions.
Frampton Cotterell didn’t go all the way but U11 coach Dave Moulsdale enjoyed a great day out.
“When you see something like Land Rover involved it shows that grassroots rugby is well supported, which can only be good for the game,” he said.
“It’s great for the kids to get them outside and get them running around. Being south of the county we don’t get to play Old Pats, Stow-on-the-Wold and people like that so it’s nice to meet them and see where we are in our progression.”
Dursley were also in action in Rendcomb, with two teams taking part, and U12 head coach Jim Smillie was pleased to see his side enjoying the day out.
“The boys are out in the rain and enjoying themselves, which is brilliant,” he said. “They have had a good year and come on really well.”
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 11 and 12-year-old players.
And Monahan, whose brother Simon is Gloucester Rugby’s community rugby manager and organised Sunday’s tournament, also enjoyed the spectacle.
“It’s great to see how strong grassroots rugby is at this level,” he said. “There is a great future ahead if all these young lads stick with the game in these numbers – it is fantastic to see.
“You see so many kids playing and it is great quality as well. Sometimes you think ‘oh, it is kids’ rugby’ but when you sit down and watch there are some great skills on show.
“I have a bit more of an insight into grassroots rugby because my brother is involved in organising it and I have been to quite a few of these events – I was at this one last year.
“Simon is always trying to teach me as well as the kids! He is doing a great job and to see this come together is brilliant because there is a huge amount of work that goes on behind the scenes.”
Land Rover supports grassroots rugby and provides the opportunity for 7,000 youngsters to take part in the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup.