He may have just missed out on the chance of walking out at Twickenham, but Old Leamingtonians Rugby Club under-11 starlet Joe Aston insisted he still loved every minute of his Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup experience.
Launched during the 2008-09 season, the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup is the first national grassroots tournament officiated by Premiership Rugby and run in conjunction with all 12 clubs.
And on Saturday it was Worcester Warriors’ turn to host under-11 and under-12 mini rugby teams in the shadow of Sixways Stadium.
Over 7,000 children will participate over the course of the campaign as they go in search of a spot in the ‘Parade of Champions’ during half-time of the Aviva Premiership Grand Final.
And while Aston was not able to lift the Under-11s Cup trophy for a spot at Rugby HQ, with Old Leamingtonians winning one of their four pool matches, the 11-year-old remained proud of his side.
“The best thing about festivals like this is that you get to see big teams that you’ve never played before,” said the Our Lady and St Teresa’s School Cubbington pupil.
“There are lots of people around so you can show your ability and what you can do, and for me it’s all about having fun too and making sure you do your best.
“When we come up against bigger teams it is helpful to us as they show us what they do better and where we can improve when we go training, so next time we are equal or even better than them.
“It’s really exciting to play for the chance to go to Twickenham. It would be brilliant to see what it’s like on the pitch. I’ve been before and it’s a great atmosphere.”
Aston’s teammate Noah Johnson added: “Our coaches always tell us to keep trying and make sure we keep our teammates happy by playing with a smile on our face.
“It’s really cool that Worcester Warriors put this day on for us. We’ve done some workshops with them before and we’re really happy to have been invited.”
Worcester Warriors were out in force to support the day, with first-team squad members Dan Sanderson and Carl Kirwan casting an eye over proceedings.
And Sanderson, who is enjoying his first season of Premiership Rugby after playing a key role in Worcester’s promotion last term, believes he saw several players with huge potential.
He said: “It was windy with rain hammering down, but all the kids were still smiling and that was quite satisfying to see.
“I was driving in not looking forward to training, but saw these lads and thought how lucky I am to be in the position I’m in.”
Land Rover is a proud supporter of grassroots rugby and has been a partner of the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup for nearly a decade. Rugby World Cup 2015 may be over but Land Rover’s ‘We Deal In Real’ campaign continues to champion grassroots rugby through Premiership Rugby and the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup. @LandRover_UK #WeDealInReal