Midlands Pair Twickenham Bound

North Midlands RFU

Last Updated: Apr 21, 2014 09:49pm
St. Stephen, Worcester
By Paul Bolton
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LEEK and Rugby Lions are Twickenham-bound after winning their semi-finals in the RFU Cup competitions.

Leek beat Cumbrian visitors Aspatria 27-15 in the RFU Intermediate Cup while Rugby Lions edged out visitors Goole 21-17 in the RFU Junior Vase.

The Midlands pair will now appear in RFU Cups Finals Day at Twickenham Stadium on May 4 where Leek will play Trowbridge and Rugby will play Longlevens from Gloucestershire.

“This is the culmination of five years work,” said Leek captain Gary McDermott. “We’ve worked closely with a young group of players, we have them their head at 18 or 19 and it’s taken a little time for them to develop.

“But most of the squad have come through the youth system at the club which makes this all the more special and it makes even more proud to be captain.”

McDermott had a spell playing National League rugby with Macclesfield but is one of those who started his career in the mini rugby section at Leek and he will be proud to lead out his hometown club at Twickenham.

“I am proud already just to get to Twickenham. But now we have got there we want to get there and win,” he said.

Leek’s cup run has captured the imagination of the Staffordshire moorlands town with huge crowds attracted for the Aspatria semi-final and the Midlands Vase final win over Bridgnorth last month.

“It’s captured the imagination of a lot of people in the town, people who wouldn’t normally come down and watch rugby so we expect to be well-supported at Twickenham,” McDermott said.

“For the Aspatria game we had youngsters from the Under 12 and Under 13 teams to form a guard of honour and hopefully seeing what you can achieve by playing rugby for Leek will encourage them to continue playing for the club.”

McDermott’s pride is shared by Rugby Lions’ player/coach Rob Walton who can look forward to a Twickenham final ten years after he missed out with Birmingham & Solihull.

The lock was part of the Birmingham & Solihull squad that beat London Wasps in the 2004 Powergen Cup quarter-finals but were then beaten by Newcastle Falcons in the semi-finals.

Walton’s playing career included subsequent spells with Rotherham, Coventry and Hinckley but he has made his mark in his first season coaching at Rugby.

Two years ago Rugby were expelled from the leagues after they ran into financial difficulties and failed to satisfy rugby-related creditors.

But they were re-admitted to the leagues in Midlands Five West (South), the very bottom level, this season and they now have their first Twickenham final to look forward to.

“It really is a dream come true,” Walton said, “I’m delighted for the players but also for all those supporters who stuck by the club last season.

“At the start of the season we had a group of players that had been pretty much thrown together but they have gelled and bonded superbly.

“We’ve won the league already and the performances that we have shown in the Vase against sides from higher in the league structure, just shows what we are capable of.”

The win over Goole, where Rugby again had to come from behind to clinch victory, completed a hectic 24 hours for Walton whose wife Gemma gave birth to their fourth child, Gabriel, on Friday afternoon.

“It’s been a memorable few days, if a little busy, but it’s been a double celebration” Walton said.

While Walton can look forward to making his debut at Twickenham  his second row colleague Nick Hill will miss one of the biggest days in Rugby’s history because he snapped an Achilles tendon in training in the build-up to the Goole match.

Stewarts & Lloyds from Corby missed out on completing a hat-trick of Midlands finalists when they were beaten 21-11 at Yarnbury in the RFU Senior Vase semi-finals.




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