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Zach Kibirige sums up the joy of Schoolboy rugby

In all of the mixture of jubilation and despair at Twickenham on Saturday on Daily Mail RBS Finals Day, there was one comment from Yarm School’s Zach Kibirige, after his side had just won the Under 18 Vase, which really struck a chord.

Kibirige, who has played for England Under 18 and represented the Newcastle Falcons in the Aviva Premiership U18 League this season, when reflecting on Yarm’s victory explained:

“Obviously there’s no greater honour than representing your country, but I’ve never had a feeling like going out at Twickenham with my best mates, there’s nothing better.”

He absolutely nailed it, being able to play rugby with your very best mates is a very special thing, and it because of that that schoolboy rugby is so unique.

Rugby is a game built on some core values of teamwork, commitment, sportsmanship and discipline, those values remain at the heart of the sport today, but through professionalism they can sometimes become clouded.

At schoolboy level though they remain the key to the game, playing rugby with some of the closest friends you will ever have means that teamwork and commitment are almost a given, nobody wants to be the person who lets their mates down or the one who is not quite doing his bit.

It is a truism of all rugby though that teams with a strong bond off the field tend to excel on it, when you the chips are down the fact that you are playing for your friends not just your teammates makes just gives you that small percentage extra, take the 1997 Lions, any of them would tell you that their off field experience was key to their series victory.

Kibirige so tellingly hit the nail on the head though by acknowledging something that is often left behind in this professional era today, but which remains in the schools and amateur clubs across the country; we play rugby because it is fun. Yes we all want to win and hate losing, yes it can frustrate us, but ultimately we play rugby, we watch rugby and we write about rugby because we enjoy the game.

As Kibirgie said, what could possibly be more fun than running out at Twickenham with 14 of your mates alongside you?

I hope that all of those leaving school soon have been able to take the chance to enjoy their time playing school rugby, for most it will be the pinnacle of their rugby careers, remember to appreciate it.

By Angus Savage

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