Brown backs youngsters to thrive in Premiership Rugby Cup

IT’S a decade-long grassroots rugby event which has seen enough young participants to completely fill Twickenham Stadium, and helped start the career of a number of professional players.

And now Harlequins full-back Mike Brown has urged young players to keep chasing their own sporting dreams after playing their part in the historic Testimonial Season of the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup.

Back in October, aspiring young stars from the region got the chance to show off their moves as Harlequins played host to the grassroots rugby festival for U11 and U12 rugby teams.

Last weekend saw the final club, Bath Rugby, run their event as the final two teams to take part in a special half-time parade during the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final at Twickenham on May 26 were identified.

Rosslyn Park U12s and Heathfield & Waldrom U11s are the two lucky clubs to go forward from the Harlequins event, which is run in conjunction with all 12 Aviva Premiership Rugby Clubs.

But England star Brown believes all of this season’s participants should hold their heads high after their efforts on the pitch.

By the end of this campaign, there will have been 137 festivals over the past ten years, amounting to 3,948 teams and an impressive 82,000 participants – enough to fill England Rugby HQ.

“My earliest memory of Twickenham are going with my dad, I was lucky that he could take me,” he said.

“I think it was England v Canada and I remember buying the seat covers you used to be able to get.

“They had the fixture on and it made the seat a bit softer but it was a great memento to take away.

“I remember getting those and they were great days. I have very fond memories of doing that with my dad and so I know how these kids will feel when they go for the first time.”

The very first Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup took place at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday November 22, 2008.

The 12 current Aviva Premiership Rugby clubs, plus Leeds, Bristol and London Welsh, have hosted events across 41 different venues, while 1,260 balls and 1,560 post pads have been used.

On the pitch, 6,500 youngsters have had the chance to run out at the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final while Sale Sharks twins Ben and Sam Curry, England Under-20s captain Calum Chick of Newcastle Falcons and London Irish junior World Cup winner Tom Smallbone all honed their skills at the grassroots festivals.

And Brown believes the success of the event will continue to be felt for years to come.

“I think it is really good, to promote the game of rugby and have a tournament. It goes on at all the clubs and it has helped producer some excellent players, such as the Curran brothers.

“It is brilliant that is it being pushed and being backed. I had nothing as good when I was a kid but I remember the festival was always the highlight of the year.

“You do everything you can to win. I used to hang my trophies in my room and they are great memories.

“You kick the ball around between games and have a load of sandwiches and then playing and getting to finals – they are special memories.

Brown was speaking on behalf of Land Rover, who this year is celebrating its Testimonial Season; ten years of supporting grassroots rugby in the UK. Follow @LandRoverRugby #WeDealInReal

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