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Maidenhead RFC juniors share turf at Twickenham with World Cup winning captain Martin Johnson

The Gallagher Premiership Rugby season may be over for another year but memories of the 2019 final will live long in the memory for youngsters from Maidenhead RFC after their special day out at Twickenham Stadium.

Thanks to their involvement with the latest season of the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup, Maidenhead Under-11s headed to rugby HQ on Saturday where they shared the turf with World Cup winning captain Martin Johnson.

That came after they secured their spot at the showpiece event at the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup festival hosted by Saracens.

Their reward for their efforts also included the chance to watch Exeter Chiefs and Saracens battle it out for the title as well as meeting with former England star Johnson pre-match.

Maidenhead player Will Hodgson was additionally awarded the honour of being nominated for the Junior Land Rover Discovery of the Season award, with the 11-year-old admitting the whole day had been one to savour.

“I’ve been to Twickenham before to watch England but I love being here inside the stadium and to have been shortlisted too, it’s surreal,” said Will.

“Rugby is something I love. I love the attitude to playing, our personalities and the respect in the game.

“My brother started to play when I was three years old. I really liked the look of it so my dad took me down and I really enjoyed it from there.

“I’ll definitely carrying on playing as I get older and I dream of playing for England.

“I’ve made loads of friends playing the game and it’s not all about the winning, it’s about enjoying it.”

Maidenhead were one of 24 under-11 and under-12 teams in attendance for the final – representing two sides for each age category from the festivals hosted by each of the 12 Gallagher Premiership Rugby clubs throughout the season.

This is the 11th year of the national grassroots rugby initiative, with more than 85,000 youngsters participating in the event to date – enough to fill Twickenham Stadium.

Players such as Newcastle Falcons’ Callum Chick started life on the pitches of the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup, with Land Rover ambassador Johnson praising the opportunities afforded to players at a young age.

Johnson said: “It’s all about giving people the opportunity to play.

“It’s great to see kids just playing and enjoying themselves. Being here at Twickenham, they will all have a dream that one day they’ll play here for their club or their country.

“I see lots of guys who didn’t get into rugby until their 20s and 30s and they wish they’d gotten into it when they were younger.

“We know about the health benefits but there are lots of life benefits of playing rugby too, it’s the entire thing, you get involved with something that’s bigger than the whole game.

“But, ultimately, I tell kids all the time, why do we play sport? Because we enjoy doing it. We enjoy playing with our team mates, the camaraderie of it, we enjoy the challenge, so anytime you can get people together is good.”

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Land Rover has heritage in rugby at all levels; from grassroots to elite, sharing and understanding the values at the heart of the game. Follow @LandRoverRugby

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