100 teams take part in biggest ever edition of the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup
Blaydon RFC and Houghton RFC will be representing Newcastle Falcons at the Aviva Premiership Rugby final this May, following the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup held ahead of The Big One at St James’ Park.
On a huge day for North East rugby, the two clubs were part of a 100-team strong entry to the annual grassroots festival for Under 11 and Under 12 teams, which played out four games each at Kingston Park Stadium and showed off their skills.
Following the completion of the festival, Blaydon and Houghton were drawn out of a hat and will be part of the half-time pitch parade as well as taking part in a question and answer session with rugby legends, with Jason Robinson and Josh Lewsey having been previous guests.
Teams came from far and wide to be part of the biggest ever edition of the Cup, with the Falcons core areas of Northumberland, Durham, Cumbria and North Yorkshire well represented.
Each participant received a ticket for the 25-22 win over Northampton Saints at the home of Newcastle United, allowing them to be part of the 30,000 strong crowd that roared the Falcons on to victory.
Savouring every second of the day, including the chance to take to the St James’ Park pitch at half-time, players from the two clubs relished the whole experience.
James Witham, who plays centre for Blaydon U12s, said “It’s really fun and exciting! It’s amazing to be in a rugby atmosphere with all your friends.
“We have all enjoyed it together as a team, so it’s really good to be here. Everyone has got a lot of game time so they’ve enjoyed it, and it is good when you win as a team as well.”
Meanwhile, Houghton Under-11s coach Ross Thompson cannot wait to take his young charges to Rugby HQ.
“This group we have just love being out there on the pitch. They’ve missed a few weeks because of the weather, so they really enjoyed the day. There was a really good atmosphere about the place, and all played in the right spirit,” he said.
Senior academy centre Charlie Wilson, who played in the tournament with Northern RFC eight years ago and was one of the Newcastle Falcons players in attendance at the festival said: “It’s really good because obviously, you’re playing teams from further afield than what you’d normally do, so you’re coming up against other oppositions.
“I played two years of the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup and it’s really enjoyable – it was a good experience. Twickenham was really exciting. You go on the pitch at half-time, so it’s a proper day out at the Premiership final.
“With the Big One knocking about as well, it was a pretty good weekend as a whole.”