CHESHIRE return to English rugby’s HQ on Saturday after gaining promotion back to the counties’ elite competition at the first time of asking.
After being relegated last season, Cheshire have defeated Leicestershire (61-18), Cumbria (34-18) and North Midlands (45-0) to complete their return to join old foes Lancashire and Yorkshire in the Bill Beaumont Cup.
As reward for their efforts, Cheshire take on Hertfordshire at Twickenham this weekend (10am) in the final of the County Championship Shield.
Hertfordshire, winners of the Shield in 2005, reached this year’s final after they swept aside Eastern Counties (65-21), Hampshire (46-7) and Middlesex (39-28). They boast the services of ex-Saracens and London Irish flanker Paul Gustard.
The showcase final is a curtain raiser for the Cup final between Lancashire and Gloucestershire (12pm) before England take on the Barbarians (4.15pm).
Chester-based prop Gavin Woods came of the bench against North Mids and will be hoping for a starting berth on Saturday after he appeared as a second-half substitute when Cheshire last featured at Twickenham in 2006.
Former Whitchurch scrum- half Chris Townsend, who sustained an eye injury against North Midlands, may keep his place in the starting line-up which will be announced at Cheshire’s training base at Chester RUFC’s Hare Lane ground.