JUNIOR stars from London Irish Under 12s are continuing to make waves in youth rugby thanks to their performance at last weekend’s Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup.

Exiles hosted 30 teams at U12 and U11 age groups during Sunday's event at their Hazlewood base, helping celebrate the 12th season of the nationwide grassroots rugby initiative.

More than 85,000 children have taken part to date – enough to comfortably fill Twickenham Stadium – providing developmental experience for young players to excel in a professionally run environment.

In the U12 competition, Irish demonstrated plenty of effort and skill, but fell just short of earning a trip to the Gallagher Premiership Rugby final on June 20 after missing out to Rosslyn Park.

But despite missing out on a place at Twickenham, London Irish U12s captain Alfie was still proud of his side’s performances.

He said: “Rugby is a very good sport – it is so fun. It is active and more importantly you get to play with your mates.

“I was excited about the tournament. It is our first proper test. We did well.

“I try and play like Billy Vunipola – he is my idol, especially because I support Saracens.

“England's semi-final match against New Zealand in the World Cup was the best I have ever seen. It was unbelievable, and I really enjoyed it.”

Participating players at the festival also had the opportunity to meet London Irish player Sam Collingridge, who took time out of his schedule to watch the young teams as well as offer some coaching tips between games.

He commented on the importance of grassroots rugby, helping to provide developmental experience for young players to excel in a professionally run environment.

He said: “Tournaments like this are massively important. I think for the children to be able to play makes it seem so important for them. It is great to see the amount of families here enjoying it.

“There are some hot-steppers out there. I have seen so many bright talents and even some I would not want to play against – they would be running rings around me. The standard is better than I was expecting.

“It is always great to come to these things. It makes you feel a little bit special, which is always nice and watching them play is always good fun.”

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