He may have just missed out on the chance of walking out at Twickenham, but Spalding Rugby Club under-11 starlet Toby Wilks insisted he had 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.
It was quite intense because of the shorter games but our coaches were always positive, they never knock our confidence but try to stop the silly, little mistakes.Spalding Rugby Club under-11 starlet Toby Wilks
It was Leicester Tigers’ turn to host as the top local under-11s and under-12s mini rugby teams met at Oakham Rugby Club.
In total 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 Wilks was not able to lift the under-11s trophy for a spot at rugby HQ on home turf as Spalding escaped their pool, only to go out at the semi-final stage to eventual champions Hinckley, the 11-year-old remained proud of his side.
“Being at a big tournament was a great experience but it was also nerve-racking because we didn’t want to get knocked out too early,” Wilks said.
“It was quite intense because of the shorter games but our coaches were always positive, they never knock our confidence but try to stop the silly, little mistakes.
“I’ve been playing rugby for quite a long time, since I was four, and I still enjoy playing every time and this was great.”
Leicester Tigers were out to support the day with first-team starlet Charlie Thacker casting an eye over proceedings.
Thacker, who is looking to emulate elder brother Harry in becoming a key member of Richard Cockerill’s first team this term, believes he saw several players with huge potential.
“It’s a massive occasion for these kids,” Thacker said.
“It’s a great chance for them to showcase their rugby and a fantastic prize on offer with the chance to go to Twickenham.
“I wish my brother and I had this sort of rugby to play in when we were kids. We played in festivals but nothing on this scale – this is a very impressive event.
“It’s really important for the Tigers to get out in the community and support these kids, and you can see how much it means to them.
“It’s lovely to be here and see the kids go mad for it, and for them it’s all about enjoyment at this stage.”
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.