THE dream of running out on the pitch at Twickenham in front of thousands of onlookers became a reality for young rugby players from the North-East last week.

The Rugby Football Union stages two mini matches for young players before all its international games at Twickenham.

As a warm-up to last weekend's England versus Australia match, the honour of appearing in the curtain-raisers fell to schoolboys from Seaham School of Technology and St Bede's Catholic Comprehensive School in Peterlee, County Durham.

Durham's rugby development officer Matt Bryan said the youngsters had been overwhelmed by the experience.

"In addition to playing their match before the international, the boys also formed a guard of honour for the international players," he said.

Each team had its own guest manager. Joining the School of Technology team was Neil Roseberry, from Seaham RFC, and leading the St Bede's contingent was Kevin Potter, from Horden RFC.

Rob Thompson, who recently started work as a community rugby coach in the Easington district, was also watching the match.

Since his appointment, Mr Thompson has been helping promote the game in schools throughout east Durham.

Brenda Peart, who manages the Easington District Schools Partnership said: "This trip was a well-deserved bonus for Rob and one that will leave memories which will last a lifetime for the young people involved."

She added: "It was a fantastic opportunity for our young people with the potential to inspire individuals, enhance our school-club links in the sport and raise the profile of rugby union across the district."