WESTCLIFF rugby club’s under-12s got a taste of the big stage on Saturday as they competed at Farnham Royal in the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup, an event hosted by London Wasps.

Before Wasps played Sale Sharks, just a few miles down the road around 50 teams from the South East of England went head-to-head, all with their eyes on taking home silverware and, with it, earning a spot in the “Parade of Champions” during half-time of the Premiership Grand Final.

Under the watchful eyes of Wasps and England wingers Tom Varndell and Christian Wade; Westcliff battled manfully.

But they were unable to get their hands on the Cup, Plate, and Bowl, Shield or Trophy competitions.

Unfortunately they will not progress to the Premiership Final in May though, with Marlow and Beccehamian landing the under-11 and under-12 titles respectively.

Steven Smith, Westcliff under-12s head coach, said: “We get to play teams from a different area. Obviously being from Essex you only end up playing against Southend, Upminster and teams like that.

“It’s great and it gives the boys and opportunity to test their ability against boys from other counties.

“They have all gone to secondary school now, so they all grow and they have matured as a team.

“I have coached them over the last five years and they are becoming young men. The physicality of the game is now coming into it a bit more and next season we go into a full-size pitch.

“It is played in the right spirit. We lost narrowly in the first game in the last seconds, but there was no disappointment from the boys because they had given it 100 per cent.”

Toby Knight, 12, Westcliff under-12s captain, said: “I had really been looking forward to it, just hoping that Saturday would come quicker. It’s a big opportunity to play against such good teams.

“I feel we are playing really well – we have made one or two mistakes, but we are doing really well.”

Launched in 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.

>LAND Rover supports grassroots rugby and provides the opportunity for 7,000 youngsters to take part in the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup.