Club to run out in all-white strip only they, England and Rugby School can wear
Rugby Lions will grace the hallowed turf of Twickenham, which really will be The Home of Rugby Football on Sunday when the Lions run out in the all-white kit that only England, Rugby School and the Rugby Football Club are allowed to wear, writes Alistair Bruten.
In my view, Rugby Lions have already grasped the holy grail by qualifying to play at Twickenham, the largest dedicated rugby stadium in the world, whose mostly empty vast stands will echo with the roars of some of the most dedicated supporters in the land who have stuck with the club through all its ups and downs within the league structure and without and now in its exciting revival phase.
Reaching Twickenham is the fantastic, frankly unbelievable achievement of this squad that the officials of this club have assembled from nothing last summer and to me their ultimate success this season does not depend on whether they win or lose on Sunday because there can be no greater accomplishment than earning the right to play at Twickenham.
What excitement and adventure that means for the whole of the Lions playing and administration personnel and the supporters – a victory would be just the cherry on a very tasty, multi-layered, expertly baked cake.
Gloucester side Longlevens may get the better of the Lions this weekend but no one will be able to reflect on a better season than Rugby Lions because no one else has come from so little to achieve so much.
Rugby will have a very tough job deciding on their starting line up and replacements for the RFU Junior Vase final.
Ruled out are player/coach Rob Dignum with a broken foot, lock Nick Hill with an achilles injury and prop Wayne Attenborough with a damaged knee.
The expectation is that head coach Rob Walton, who missed the Welsh match last weekend, will be fit after his leg injury late on in the Goole game and be up for selection.
A number of players have featured relatively late in the season and made their claim for consideration. There are bound to be disappointed men when the squad is announced but they all can reflect on the fact that they played their part in getting Lions to where they are now and hopefully every one of them will be at Twickenham to share in the occasion.
Longlevens are a Gloucester 1 side from the east of the city who completed their league season last Saturday with a big win over Kingswood to finish in third place just one point behind the second team and with the same number of wins as the top two sides, 15 from 22 games.
There is a video of their semi-final on the Longlevens club website. You can make your own mind up about their quality from the match footage that follows the preliminaries of the coach trip and warming up.
Their results suggest they have been growing stronger through the season with good performances against the two clubs above them and of course their Junior Vase success so far.
Understandably for a player, Rob Walton’s approach to the game was not just to enjoy the event: “Twickenham will be a fantastic experience for the players, the supporters and the club but we are going there to win not to come second. I expect a harder game than Goole with Longlevens being tougher up front and confident with the ball. With no home advantage to either team, it will be important to settle early and get into the game or the 80 minutes will fly by. All we can do is give 100% and we will certainly do that.”