By Alec McQuarrie, Sportsbeat
WARRINGTON youngster Teddy Hastings enjoyed the experience of a lifetime at the weekend as he trod the turf at Twickenham during the Premiership Rugby Final and met legendary Lion Sam Warburton.
Hastings, 12, who play for Warrington RFC U12s, won the opportunity to rub shoulders with English rugby’s elite after impressing at a Sale Sharks-run Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup festival.
This successful series of nationwide rugby festivals, 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.
Each Premiership Rugby Club hosted a festival this season, with the U12 winning team and the successful U11 team decided based on their demonstration of the core values of the game, getting the chance to take part in the half-time Parade of Champions on the pitch at Twickenham and meeting a host of Land Rover ambassadors.
Graduates of the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup have gone on to realise their rugby ambitions, with several players now playing for Premiership Rugby clubs, including Louis Lynagh at Harlequins and Callum Chick at Newcastle Falcons.
Captain Hastings has the unenviable task of being the son of head coach Dominic, but he sees the positive side to the added responsibility.
He said: “Most of the time it’s good to have my Dad as the coach, because you just get that extra bit of training, pushing me harder than anyone else and I think that’s better for me.
“We’re a great team and very good friends. We’re doing well in school as well.”
Dominic Hastings, 44, added: “I’m immensely proud of Teddy. He’s got one of the hardest jobs, being the coach’s son.
“He has to be there every single training session, first there, last to leave. He’s our captain, won the Players’ Player of the Year and he works very, very hard.”
He also lauded the entire team’s efforts, after they beat fierce rivals Macclesfield in the final by one try.
He said: “It was a huge win. The boys do everything we ever ask of them. They’re an amazing group and they really deserve today. The team are such a good set of lads, it makes our job easy.”
Land Rover ambassador Sam Warburton was speaking at this season’s Gallagher Premiership Rugby Final, where he met hundreds of youngsters from the national grassroots initiative, the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup.
He said: “Sport’s so important because it teaches kids how to communicate, how to win and how to lose. That comradery and a sense of belonging.
“That’s why I love rugby, being a team sport and it’s physical and it’s tough but it’s a great feeling and you get that at a professional level as well as grassroots.
“The Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup is a great taste in that success when you can see hundreds of kids around you play. As a young person that’s an amazing sense of achievement so I love how this is the opportunity we give these kids.
“Just to give them that bit of motivation. Some kids will just enjoy the moment for what it is but I think there will be a penny that drops for a few of them that are uber competitive that will kick them onto greater things.
“So it’s great to give them that incentive.”
Land Rover has been supporting grassroots rugby in the UK for nearly two decades, through the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup. Visit landrover.co.uk