He may have missed out on the chance of walking out at Twickenham, but Sheffield under-12 starlet Eoin Mullaney loved every minute of his Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup experience.
The Rugby Cup is the first national grassroots tournament officiated by Premiership Rugby and run in conjunction with all 12 clubs. And last Sunday Sale Sharks hosted the first event of the new season, as the top under-11s and under-12s mini rugby teams met at Manchester 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 Mullaney, from the Hangingwater area, was not able to lift the U12s Cup for a spot at Rugby HQ, his team performed well in their pool matches and the 11-year-old remained proud of his side.
“It’s a great thing to play with your mates, the rugby is very fast-paced in this competition and it’s not what we’re used to” he said.
“It would have been great to have gone to Twickenham but it’s not the end of the world and I think we can be happy with how we did.
“We played well and I am proud of the team and I think it will make us a better team in the future.”
Sale Sharks were out in force to support the day, with four of their players – including Danny Cipriani and Mark Easter casting an eye over proceedings.
And Cipriani insists it was amazing to see the game alive and well and says he saw plenty of potential in the young guns.
“It’s nice to see the kids because it’s what it is all about really and when I was younger you didn’t really see too many senior players around so this is an honour,” he said.
“It was always an inspirational thing for me every Sunday to meet up with my mates playing rugby and that’s what got me into it.
“A lot of the England team are northern and there is a big influence on the game up here and it’s amazing to see so many kids out here today.”
*Land Rover is a proud supporter of grassroots rugby and a partner of the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup for nearly a decade. Land Rover’s ‘We Deal In Real’ campaign aims to champion grassroots rugby on the global stage during Rugby World Cup 2015. Follow @Land RoverRugby #WeDealInReal