- Lancashire contesting sixth consecutive final at Twickenham
- Big clash on Sunday is a repeat of last year’s final pairing
Photo: RFU Archive
It’s déjà vu in the Bill Beaumont Cup on Sunday (June 1) – as Lancashire face Cornwall in a repeat of last year’s final.
Lancashire, contesting their sixth consecutive final, will be aiming to retain the title they won last year with a 35-26 victory.
The game, which kicks off at 12.15pm, serves as a tasty appetiser for the main event of the day: with an England XV taking on the Barbarians (3pm). And the crowd are in for a real feast of rugby, as they can also enjoy the Bill Beaumont Division Two Plate final (10am) between Kent and Durham, as well as the County Championship Shield final (5.15pm) between Surrey and Leicestershire.
For Lancashire, it is a chance to maintain their vice-like grip on the Bill Beaumont Cup, and they are delighted to be going up against Cornwall after topping Division One North with a 100 per cent record.
“It’s set up a real humdinger,” said Lancashire head coach Mark Nelson, whose side have won four of the last five County Championship titles.
“It would have been very difficult after everything we have put in, to go out of the competition at the group stage, but the lads have dug deep, and teed up an experience they won’t forget at Twickenham on Sunday, so we’re really looking forward to that.”
Despite their recent dominance in this competition, Lancashire did not have things all their own way in coming through Division One North to reach the final. Indeed, they had to come from 19-7 down at home to Cheshire last weekend, eventually prevailing 25-19. That meant they edged out Yorkshire to reach the final, with Northumberland – winners of the Division Two Plate last season – relegated after just one season at this level.
Nelson added: “I said right from the start, that there were four teams who were very competitive, and that proved to be the case, right to the wire. Cheshire pushed and pushed and pushed, and we had to dig really deep into our resources.”
Cornwall are aiming to claim the County crown for the first time since 1999, having lost twice in the final since then – to Yorkshire in 2001 as well as to Lancashire last year.
They topped Division One South to book their place, sealing it with a winner-takes-all victory at Hertforshire last Saturday. Their 13-9 success was enough to earn a return ticket to Twickenham.
Cornwall President Ken Plummer is hoping it will be third time lucky against this particular opposition – as he was also in the side that lost 9-6 to Lancashire in the 1992 final. And he believes the performance at Hetfordshire will allow them to travel with a positive frame of mind.
“It was a superb advert for Cornish rugby,” he said. “The boys played with heart and passion in front of a mainly Cornish crowd in Hertfordshire.
“Now we travel to Twickenham next weekend where I want revenge – revenge for the game I played and lost in, and revenge for our defeat last season, both against Lancashire.
“I will tell our boys to go and play their hearts out in one of the best stadiums in the world for rugby. Many dream, but few ever have the opportunity to play there.”