Youngsters from Leighton Buzzard RFC played a part in creating history as they participated in this weekend’s Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup, hosted by Northampton Saints.
Since being launched during the 2008-09 season, the nationwide grassroots rugby event has seen more than 70,000 children take part.
This season sees the tenth anniversary edition of the event – the ‘Testimonial Season’ – with Saints hosting their festival in the shadow of Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday.
Leighton Buzzard Under-12s were one of almost 20 Under-12 teams in attendance, and even got the chance to strut their stuff in front of Saints player Jamie Elliott, who was casting his eyes over the next generation of stars.
And while they missed out on the chance to attend next May’s Aviva Premiership Rugby Final, despite their displaying plenty of skill and effort, 11-year-old captain Jamie West insisted he had loved every minute of the experience.
“It’s a special tournament because we’re playing at a Premiership ground, this is my third or fourth time playing here and it’s really nice with the atmosphere and so many different teams playing,” said the Cottesloe School pupil.
“Being captain feels good, I have a sense of responsibility to lead the team.
“To be a good captain you have to be responsible and have a strong voice. You have to support and encourage your players too.”
Leighton Buzzard did at least get the chance to rub shoulders with rugby’s elite in Elliott, and he admitted he had been impressed with what he had seen, in particular stressing the importance of grassroots rugby.
“It’s great to get kids involved in grassroots rugby and get them down to see what they could get towards one day — Premiership rugby,” he said.
“There’s a lot of effort going in and a lot of fun going on here.”
“There’s a good skill level on show, it’s very windy but they’re still playing some good rugby.
“It’s great for kids to come down to tournaments like this because it keeps their interest up and spreads the word about rugby.
“It reminds me of my early rugby memories, I come from a big rugby family so we would all go down to watch Bedford Blues and rugby was a chance to spend time together.”