YOUNGSTERS from Yarm School will today see their dreams come true as they step out on to the Twickenham pitch to play a cup final.

Yarm earned themselves a coveted spot to play at the home of rugby in the final of the Daily Mail RBS Under-18s Vase, after defeating Plymouth College 8-5 in the hard-fought semi-final.

The team will grace the hallowed turf of Twickenham this afternoon, when they meet Felsted School from Essex.

But a twist of fate gave the school a massive boost in the early stages of the tournament, which could have easily seen them eliminated before Twickenham became even a fanciful forethought.

The Daily Mail competitions are made up of the Cup and the Vase, with the latter existing to accommodate those teams knocked out in the early stages of the Cup.

Yarm were dispatched from the cup at the first hurdle, defeated by Hartlepool Sixth Form College 47-26, who went on to lose to Durham School in the next round 31-7.

Hartlepool, whose head of rugby is former Northampton Saint Chris Hyndman, recruit the finest young talent from West Hartlepool and Hartlepool RFCs, and were drawn to be Yarm's next opponents in the Vase after the Teessiders had beaten Darlington's Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form 72-7 - but the game never went ahead owing to the bad weather and Hartlepool's involvement in the BUCS Cup, the tie being awarded to Yarm.

Yarm did not look back and made light work of the knockout stages. And today, Yarm School's head of rugby Stuart Hardy, will lead his team out in what will be the proudest moment of his career to date.

"I'm tremendously proud. Just being there will be a tremendous occasion," said Hardy, who has worked at Yarm School since 1990.

"We've conquered the first hurdle of not being a losing semi-finalist, if we go home with nothing at least we'll have had the day out. But we're hoping it will be a very special day.

"It's got to be up there with the greatest achievements in anybody's rugby career."

Yarm will be backed on the day by 280 fans travelling by coach, with around 200 making their own arrangements to travel to Twickenham.

The team has never won the competition before, with the U15s team coming closest back in 2001, when they were knocked out at the semi-final stage.

Yarm boast firepower in the form of Zach Kibirige, the 18-year-old Newcastle Falcons centre who has represented England at under-18 level.

He is Yarm's jewel in the crown, and will play his final game for the school at Twickenham, a ground he has never set foot in previously.

Hardy knows it will not be his final visit to the home of rugby.

"It's Zach's first appearance at Twickenham," said Hardy. "I don't think it'll be his last. It's actually his first time at the ground in any capacity. He's not been there as a spectator.

"The England age group games don't take place at Twickenham. So although he's played at Premiership grounds with England and the Falcons, he's never been to the national stadium.

"Zach's the name that everybody knows. He's a special player with a big future in the game.

"With someone like Zach on the team, on an individual level, is great. When I was playing, I'd always look on the teamsheet to see if I was on the team, then to see who else is around you. Zach's one of those players who you look to see if he's in too. When you've got him, you've always got a chance, that he's going to lift your game because he's alongside you."

Kibirige is not the only player to be making his final appearance for the school, with Hardy hoping they can end their time on a high.

"There's a number of players here who will be playing their last game, not just Zach, Joshua Jones, scored 20 or so tries this year, he's been influential for us at scrum-half," explained Hardy, who will be assisted today by Chris Webb, a coach who has Twickenham experience having represented England Universities at the famous stadium.

"Some of these players have been together since the early days of our junior school. Thirteen years of their lives have been together, so their last game at Yarm School will be at Twickenham.

"It'll be emotional. Since we don't play rugby in the second term, it's hockey, any of the Daily Mail Vase games could have been their last. I was telling them 'this could be your last game.' Now I can definitely say to them 'this is your last game.'

Hardy and his coaching staff have been keen not to overplay the event of playing at the biggest rugby stadium in the country, in the hope that the pressure - which he admits got to them in the semi-final - will not cause a problem today.

"The pressure did get to us in the semi-final," said Hardy. "We're a team that usually does score points, tries in particular, but the longer we didn't score, the more pressure we started to put ourselves under.

"As it turned out the late try from Zach got us through. We'll learn from it. We'll need to remain calm and relax and hopefully the points will come.

"It's a new environment for the players and we're trying to treat it as a normal experience, we've been keen not to build it up too much.

"We played at the Northern Echo Arena last week against Mowden under-18s and it helped the players to acclimatise to a big stadium. It'll be a good help for us. If Chris can come up with any pointers we'll use it.

"I've been talking to coaches who have been there over the years and picking up pointers from them and trying to feed them into the players.

"The players are all keen to spot where their families are in the ground, so we'll do that early on so they won't get distracted during the game and switch off.

"Having been before, I've been up in the Gods before, looking down, but they'll be at pitch level, looking up, up, and up."

Hardy admits he is quietly confident of success today, but having watched Felsted play prior to Yarm's success at the semi-final stage, he knows they pose a formidable challenge.

"While we were still thinking about our game, we watched Felsted and St Ambrose," said Hardy.

"We cast half an eye on it. They're similar to us. They like to play rugby and get the ball around, so I'm anticipating a good game. They raced to a 31-3 lead but St Ambrose got back in it, scoring four tries in 15 minutes.

"Whether Felsted were too busy thinking about the final, or whether there was a fitness issue, we don't know. It was a very tense final encounter.

"For some of these boys, this is going to be the pinnacle of their careers.

"They'll always be able to say 'I've played at Twickenham' but they'd prefer to say 'I've played at Twickenham and won.'"

Yarm squad to face Felsted (from): Scott Melville, Fola Ajekigbe, Fezan Mughal, Zach Kibirige, Akshay Peddada, Will Guthrie, Joshua Jones, James Fox, Alexander O'Brien, Simon Eastham, Adam Henderson, Jonathan Collantine, Thomas Lawson, Jonathan Teague, Thomas Mavin, Ayoosh Chaudhury, Alexander Nargol, Joshua Woodward, Robert Duggleby, Adam Edmondson, Connor Hartigan, Tamer Fuat.