Over 1,000 young players take part in huge grassroots festival at Kingston Park Stadium
Ahead of last weekend's 46-31 win over Northampton Saints, the Falcons Community Foundation were again out on the main pitch at Kingston Park Stadium and surrounding paddocks as they hosted the 2017 Land Rover Rugby Premiership Cup.
An annual event Under 11 and Under 12 players at each of the 12 Aviva Premiership clubs, the 2017 itineration in the North East saw a total of 58 descend on the stadium with over 1,000 children participating in the age groups.
With teams attending from across the North East, Cumbria and further afield, each squad played a total of 60 minutes of Rugby in an event ran to a festival format within the RFU Age Grade Rugby guideline, making the day all about participation and enjoyment.
Refereed superbly by members of the Northumberland Junior Society, the festival was also visited by Falcons senior players Mouritz Botha, Tom Catterick, Chris Harris, Brett Connon, Tyrone Holmes, Zach Kibirige, Will Witty and Michael Young, with young participants picking up useful tips and the obligatory photos and autographs.
After the completion of the games and ahead of the kick-off of the Aviva Premiership match, all participants paraded on the main pitch in front of 6,860 other supporters before taking their seats for the pulsating top flight game.
During the half time interval, Falcons Community Foundation staff and stadium announcer Justin Lockwood conducted a draw to determine which of the 30 under 11 and 28 under 12 teams would represent the Falcons at May’s Aviva Premiership Rugby final at Twickenham, with Keswick and Redcar drew out of the hat respectively.
It proved to be another excellent day for the young players, with coaches fulsome in their praise of the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup.
Neil Thomas of Guisborough RFC said: “What a great day, fabulous tournament and fabulous match and atmosphere afterwards. I have had several parents email me to say it was the best day they and their boys have enjoyed in 6 years rugby with Guisborough RUFC Credit and thanks to you and all involved in the organisation. I think it will inspire many of us to get up for more premier league matches.”
Alan Gardener from Alnwick RFC said: “We enjoyed some great rugby all played in the spirit of the game and met up with many old friends over the day which was finished off with a very exciting Falcons win. All our boys and parents really enjoyed the day.
Reflecting on another successful event, Gavin Beasley of the Falcons Community Foundation said: ““Every year this has been one of our biggest pre-match festivals of the season and with over 1000 children participating from 58 teams its shows how popular the LRPC is for both age groups.
“A mention must go out to all the clubs for their superb effort in organising their teams and getting them here bright and early and the spirit and core values of rugby which were shown throughout the day was great to see.
“We must also give a special mention to the guys from Northumberland Junior referees society who were and have been outstanding over the past few year we have been working together.”