Kilburn Cosmos' pair Ono and Leonard to take to the turft at Twickenham in June
PUBLISHED: 13:00 24 May 2019
Running out at Twickenham is the dream for every grassroots rugby player and two Kilburn Cosmos stalwarts are getting the chance to do just that next month.
Casey Leonard and Jasmine Ono, both from Ontario, Canada, joined the club just to meet new people and have now been chosen for a NatWest Grassroots Barbarians side to play at HQ on June 9.
They are part of the NatWest Grassroots Barbarians team, coached by World Cup winner Will Greenwood, who will pit their wits against another team made up of players from grassroots rugby clubs across the UK and Ono is still in disbelief that her rugby journey has taken such a twist.
"Casey recruited me to the team, totally randomly and we've been on a journey together in rugby so it's going to be incredible to play at Twickenham with her," said Ono.
"The social aspect of the team is really good - we all need to make friends in London - but it's taken on a lot of momentum beyond that.
"The fact that it's gone from something quite small to playing at Twickenham is surreal.
"I stopped playing rugby for eight years, I thought I'd just play social rugby.
"It's great a women's team is represented - I love the women's game and went to watch England play Scotland at Twickenham in the Six Nations this year. It'll be so cool to step out on that pitch."
NatWest RugbyForce is a longstanding initiative run by the official banking partner of England Rugby.
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This year, all clubs that registered for NatWest RugbyForce were entered into a draw for their chance for club players to be selected to join the Grassroots Barbarians.
On June 9, four teams of the most committed players from clubs around the country will go head-to-head, supported by their clubs, rugby legends and current players to celebrate the grassroots game.
Greenwood, who led his squad through a coaching day in the Midlands last weekend, said: "It's really is a tiny fraction of the rugby population who get to run out into the iconic, 80,000 seater stadium.
"Most of them will have seen it on the telly and now they're stepping into the shoes of titans and having a dig themselves. It's a wonderful initiative.
"I remember my first time playing at Twickenham with Lancashire in 1991 and the memory is as strong as any of my Test matches.
"It's critical to support the grassroots game. NatWest RugbyForce recognises this and gives grants to grassroots rugby clubs and it's so important.
"Whether it buys a new tackle bag or provides the first-team with kit so they all look like a team - these things are often taken for granted and make a big difference."
*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 Grassroots Barbarians initiative, offering grassroots players the chance to play at Twickenham on June 9.
Follow @NatWest_Rugby on Twitter for more information.