Northampton’s William Bryan was thrilled at the chance to watch Leicester Tigers as he trod the turf at Twickenham during the Premiership Rugby Final and met legendary Lion Sam Warburton.
Bryan, 12, who plays for Old Northamptonians Rugby Club, won the opportunity to rub shoulders with English rugby’s elite after impressing at Leicester Tigers Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup festival.
This successful series of nationwide rugby festivals, now running for nearly two decades and organised by Land Rover – the Official Vehicle of Premiership Rugby – has seen more than 100,000 children take part to date, with some realising their dreams of going on to play for Premiership Rugby clubs.
Each Premiership Rugby Club hosted a festival this season, with the U12 winning team and the successful U11 team decided based on their demonstration of the core values of the game, getting the chance to take part in the half-time Parade of Champions on the pitch at Twickenham and meeting a host of Land Rover ambassadors.
Graduates of the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup have gone on to realise their rugby ambitions, with several players now playing for Premiership Rugby clubs, including Louis Lynagh at Harlequins and Callum Chick at Newcastle Falcons.
Bryan said: "I'm really excited, I think it's a great opportunity for me and all the players.
"I'm really proud of our team. I think we worked great together on the day of the festival and obviously there's always stuff that can be improved on but we played brilliantly.
"I want to play rugby until at least I get a professional contract and if I don't I want to carry on playing as semi-pro."
Old Northamptonians Rugby Club head coach, Ricky Ansell thanked the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup festivals for their continued support and efforts to get young people into the game.
He said: "It’s really good. It's a very prestigious sponsor and prestigious tournament so to have won as a Northampton team in Leicester was great.
"It's great to see players like Sam Warburton talking about their career and highlighting that the enjoyment is what they take most out of rugby and hopefully the players will learn from that and do the same thing."
Land Rover ambassador Sam Warburton was speaking at this season’s Premiership Final, where he met hundreds of youngsters from the national grassroots initiative.
He said: "Sport's so important because it teaches kids how to communicate, how to win and how to lose. That comradery and a sense of belonging.
"That's why I love rugby, being a team sport and it's physical and it's tough but it's a great feeling and you get that at a professional level as well as grassroots.
"The Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup is a great taste in that success when you can see hundreds of kids around you play. As a young person that's an amazing sense of achievement so I love how this is the opportunity we give these kids.”
Land Rover has been supporting grassroots rugby in the UK for nearly two decades, through the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup. Visit landrover.co.uk.