Kent take on Lancashire in Bill Beaumont County Championship final

A view of Twickenham Stadium ahead of the game
A view of Twickenham Stadium ahead of the game

History can be made in the Bill Beaumont County Championship final on Sunday as Kent look to end a 96-year drought when they take on Lancashire at Twickenham.

Last victorious in 1927, the county have reached the final for the first time since 1986 and now have the opportunity to finally lift the trophy again.

Standing in their way are Lancashire, the most successful county in the competition’s history, who have triumphed 25 times - most recently in 2018.

Kent have had to overcome significant challenges to make the showpiece, defeating Hampshire and Somerset before a thrilling 34-31 win over Cornwall at Camborne saw them to Twickenham.

Lancashire have not had it easy themselves, beating Cheshire and Hertfordshire before edging past Yorkshire 29-28 in a thrilling Roses battle last weekend.

Kent captain Jamie Stephens is aware of the challenge Lancashire will bring but is focusing on his own side’s abilities.

He said: “We are both coming off the same thing – a difficult final pool game last week.

“It is hugely exciting. Lancashire are obviously a huge county in terms of rugby and if you look up and down their team, they have a lot of level four players at Fylde and Sedgley Park, for example, so we know it will be tough.

“It is unknown to us a little bit but I imagine it will be another really good game.

“I am trying to keep a lid on it in terms of excitement leading up to it but it is hard with a game like this - I’ll be leading the boys out which is very exciting.

“Playing at Twickenham will be huge for us as a county and it will probably be a career highlight for a lot of the boys in the team. Hopefully, we can get the win too.”

A packed weekend at Twickenham could be a memorable one for northern rugby, with Sale Sharks taking on Saracens in Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership final before Lancashire take part in both the Bill Beaumont Men’s County Championship and Gill Burns Women’s County Championship finals the following day.

Lancashire men’s captain Dan Birchall said: “It adds a huge amount to the whole experience, as there is also the Barbarians and the World XV game on the same day.

“It is a huge day for the county and for us to cap off quite an impressive weekend, hopefully with Lancashire women and Sale Sharks on Saturday too, would be fantastic.

“It has been done before when both teams are at the final and we both won in 2017. It was quite the celebration and hopefully we can do that again.

“It would mean an awful lot to lift the trophy at Twickenham. When I was first asked if I would captain the side, it was an honour and I was taken aback by it.

“To be able to take the team the distance and do the job we set out to do would be a banner moment in anyone’s career, let alone my own. We are just concentrating on us and making sure we can do it on the day.

"The game against Yorkshire was always going to be tough, they have beaten us the last two or three times we have faced them which has been the deciding factor in keeping us from going to Twickenham. It turned into a fantastic match and it was great to be on the right side of it."

Whatever the result, both teams will savour the experience of walking out at the home of English Rugby and the man who gives his name to the competition understands what the occasion will mean to the players.

“Playing for my county was a tremendous honour and something I will always remember,” Beaumont said.

“I have no doubt that for the players at Twickenham, these finals will be just as memorable, and I wish them all the most enjoyable experience playing alongside teammates from across their counties.”

You can watch the Bill Beaumont and Gill Burns County Championship Division 1 Finals this Sunday via the England Rugby YouTube channel, or to find out all the latest information and news on the finals follow @RFU on Twitter