Young Chichester rugby players had a day to remember when they ran out on the hallowed turf of Twickenham ahead of the Rugby Premiership final.
The clubs under 11s and under 12s sides took to the pitch at rugby HQ alongside World Cup winning captain Martin Johnson after performing well in the national Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup.
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.
Chichester player Freddie Salmon 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.
Freddie said: “My team did so well to be invited to watch the Premiership Rugby final and I was chuffed to find out I had been nominated for an award.
“We have made a lot of memories along the way and Twickenham is just the highlight of it all.
“We have been here before when we were in under 7s and played a match on the pitch so I kind of knew what to expect, but it was still amazing to see the stadium. I was still so excited.
“I’m so proud to be a part of this team. We all enjoyed watching Saracens versus Exeter and it was great to see Owen Farrell because I really look up to him.”
Another player to shine was William Heaver, who starred for the under 12s and also received an honour for his age group.
He said: “I have been to Twickenham once or twice before, but never for the Premiership Rugby final so the whole day was really exciting.
“I was quite nervous when I found out we were going down to the pitch, but it felt amazing to know what the players must feel like when they walk out.
“I’m so proud of my team for getting there. They all put in lots of hard work and we were all so happy to have a fun day together at Twickenham.”
Chi’s teams were among 24 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.
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.
“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.”
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