TWO Leigh RUFC regulars grabbed the chance to play at Twickenham.

Centre Jonny Drake and scrum-half Joe Harrison were rewarded for their dedication to grassroots rugby with a place at the NatWest RugbyForce invitational.

The duo were coached by England legend Maggie Alphonsi and supported from the sidelines by Red Rose royalty in George Ford and Paul Grayson.

And tasting 26-17 victory on the hallowed turf meant it was a perfect day for Drake, who admitted the experience will be hard to top despite only being two years into his rugby career.

Drake said: “From playing amateur football to playing at Twickenham in two years is crazy really. My brother’s definitely jealous, but now I can say I’ve played at Twickenham.

Harrison added: “I’ve been playing rugby a lot longer than Jonny and it is still surreal. It’s been a massive opportunity and we’ll be able to take all of the wisdom we’ve learnt back to the boys at Leigh.”

Prior to their Twickenham debut, players were invited to regional training sessions, where they were given elite coaching from the likes of Will Greenwood, Alphonsi, Grayson and Steve Borthwick.

This year NatWest, the Official Banking Partner of England Rugby, is continuing to make it easy for all in the grassroots rugby community to access the sport that they love.

As part of this commitment, NatWest has evolved RugbyForce for 2019 by introducing the NatWest RugbyForce Invitational fixture.

All registered grassroots clubs were automatically entered into a draw for a chance to have players from their club invited to receive exclusive access to elite rugby coaching and the opportunity to play a game at Twickenham.

Alphonsi hailed the initiative and underlined just how special the day was for their charges.

She said: “This initiative is about recognising the importance of grassroots players and giving them once in a lifetime memories you would never get with any other experience.

“The best thing about playing at Twickenham is sharing the occasion with friends and family, but it’s also little things like knowing you’ve done the same drive in and used the same dressing rooms as the elite players.

“It’s great to help our clubs, because that’s where all of our top players come from – if we don’t invest in them then we won’t have players for the future.

“It took me 10 years to play here as an athlete, so I know how special it is. I’ve really enjoyed being able to pass on my experience and expertise.”

NatWest is the Official Banking Partner of England Rugby. This year NatWest RugbyForce is making it easier for grassroots clubs to access rugby through its NatWest RugbyForce Invitational fixture, offering grassroots players the chance to play at Twickenham. @NatWest_Rugby