He may have missed out on the chance to walk on the hallowed turf at Twickenham but West Park starlet Ben Toole insisted he had still loved every minute of his Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup experience.
Toole was in action for West Park’s under-11s at Manchester Rugby Club on Sunday as Sale Sharks hosted their leg of the Land Rover Cup, the first national grassroots tournament officiated by Premiership Rugby.
In total over 7,000 youngsters will participate over the course of the 12 legs, one for each top-flight English club, as they go in search of a spot in the ‘Parade of Champions’ during half-time of the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final.
And, while captain Toole was not able to lift the under-11s Cup trophy for a spot at Twickenham in May, the ten-year-old remained proud of his team and their efforts in front of a cast of Sale Sharks professionals.
“I felt nervous when I first got there but when we beat the first team we played that gave us some confidence and we went on from there,” said the Bleak Hill Primary School pupil.
“I have to credit all the teams we played. They were all really good and we had some good matches. The best thing about these festivals is being able to take part.
“We can see how other people play rugby and learn from them. I feel like I’m really improving on days like those in terms of my fitness and also how to run with the ball and passing.
“It also helped us as a team as we got used to how we all play and trusted each other when we passed the ball to each other.
“It’s very exciting to play in an event run by Sale Sharks. They are a good team and it’s really great of them to get involved with the younger guys like me.
“To know that a big rugby team believes in you to maybe play for Sale Sharks one day is inspiring.”
Casting an eye over proceedings were Sale Sharks quartet Will Cliff, Tom Brady, Joe Ford and Ross Harrison and the latter believes he saw more than a few players with huge potential.
“Getting the kids out and playing is obviously massive for them and their development as players,” said prop Harrison. “I remember coming to these kinds of days with Lymm from the under-12s onwards and I came through from there.
“So minis rugby is really important and you make a lot of new friends from your area as well, not just your school.
“I used to get a lot of enjoyment from getting a run out at these kind of festivals, and it is not just about getting the win at this level as it’s more about getting everyone out here playing.”
Land Rover supports grassroots rugby and provides the opportunity for over 7,000 youngsters to take part in the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup each season. Keep up to date with the latest Land Rover rugby activity by following @LandRoverRugby on Twitter.