WITH normality finally starting to return to the UK, it was rugby’s opportunity to take centre stage last weekend, as the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup returned at Exeter Chiefs.

Crediton RFC hosted a thrilling Under-11 and Under-12 grassroots developmental festival on Saturday as youngsters at last got the opportunity to lace up their boots again, with Chard Rugby Club’s Under-11 side among the teams taking part in the event.

This successful series of nationwide events, now running for nearly two decades and organised by Land Rover - the official vehicle of Premiership Rugby - has seen more than 100,000 children take part to date, with some realising their dreams of going on to play for Premiership Rugby clubs.

Chard, Crewkerne, Crediton, Withycombe, Exeter Athletic and Newton Abbot battled it out in a hugely competitive and enjoyable festival of Under-11s rugby.

And for Chard player Ben Doel, who has experienced a frustrating time away from the pitch, it was a memorable experience as his side finally got back to playing their chosen sport.

Doel, 11, said: “It feels good to be back playing rugby, especially after lockdown, which was really boring because we weren’t able to go out or exercise or play rugby.

“This competition is good fun because there are many teams - we’ve played some of them before but not all of them, so it should be good.

“Junior rugby is like professional rugby to me - that’s how much it means.

“Our team’s biggest strength is that we have a variety of players - we have good tacklers, big players and fast players.

“It’s varied so that we can get the best out of all our abilities.

“It’s exciting to know professional players have played at this tournament because I look up to people like that; my favourite player is probably Henry Slade.”

The competition was a fantastic spectacle for those in attendance, with each fixture being played in a competitive and sportsmanlike spirit, while providing a meaningful platform for youngsters to develop their rugby skills.

Land Rover ambassador Lewis Moody, who racked up 71 caps for England, said: “The return of the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup across the country is a huge boost for grassroots rugby.

“It is one of the longest standing national series of rugby festivals for Under-11 and Under-12 youngsters, and it is always a date in the season that clubs look forward to being part of.

“It cannot be underestimated how important these grassroots rugby events are for rugby in the UK.

“Youngsters will learn vital lessons by playing in these festivals, that will serve them on and off the rugby pitch.

“To date, more than 100,000 youngsters have taken part in the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup, with several players going on to play for Premiership Rugby clubs.

“This shows the pathway these youngsters can take on their rugby journey, thanks to Land Rover’s support of grassroots rugby.”

The Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup is testament to Land Rover’s commitment to supporting rugby at all levels; from grassroots to elite. Follow @LandRoverRugby to discover more. #DiscoverRugby