With just one game of schoolboy rugby left in the 2012/13 season we thought it was time to do a season review, following one of the most enthralling seasons in recent times.
The year began with the likes ofÂ Marlborough,Â RadleyÂ andÂ DurhamÂ showing some magnificent form, crushing opposition from across their fixture list, each would go on to only lose one game each that term.
The big highlight of the Michaelmas term though is always the St Josephâ€™s Festival in October. The 2011 competition had been won byÂ Dulwich CollegeÂ as they went on to do the St Josephâ€™s and Daily Mail Cup double, and they went into the 2012 competition as favourites again.
Their main threat to securing back-to-back titles in the two-day competition wasÂ Millfield School.Â Millfiled have a rich history in the tournament and despite having not quite hit their peak at that stage of the season, went into the tournament full of confidence.
The two sides went head to head in the semi final whereÂ MillfieldÂ showed admirable strength up front to become the first team, and only team of the season, to withstand the pressure from the awesomeÂ DulwichÂ pack.
Victory overÂ John FisherÂ in the final followed forÂ MillfieldÂ who also collected the Player of the Tournament award throughÂ Sam Denham, and the try of the tournament fromÂ Tom Whiteley.
Half term followed the St Josephâ€™s Festival and on the return to school weather inevitably began to halt the progress of a few sides.Â BedfordÂ had showed some real form on the hard early season pitches but began to tail off as things became a little stickier, while the likes ofÂ Wellington College,Â RGS High WycombeÂ andÂ Kingâ€™s MacclesfieldÂ really began to show their quality.
As the term began to come to a close it became clear who the dominant forces in the school game were this year, withÂ Durham, Dulwich, Millfield, Marlborough, Kingâ€™s Macclesfield, RadleyÂ andÂ WellingtonÂ all showing an exceptional amount of quality and sustaining an incredibly high level of performance.
MillfieldÂ took perhaps the most eagerly anticipated game of the term when they travelled toÂ WellingtonÂ after an outbreak of mumps atÂ SedberghÂ saw their fixture cancelled, however it wasÂ Marlborough CollegeÂ who collected the Fifteen Rugby Team of the Term award after a truly exceptional term which saw them win 13 of their 14 fixtures.
Millfield win the St Joseph’s Festival
As the new year began an temperatures plummeted, simply being able to stage fixtures became the main priority, however it did not take long for the big focus of the term to come to the for; The Daily Mail Cup.
Dulwich CollegeÂ were looking to take back-to-back titles in the tournament, however it wasÂ Hampton SchoolÂ who were looking the most threatening side in the competition in the early stages of 2013.
Wilmslow High SchoolÂ and created a few waves as they marched into the quarter finals, whileÂ SherborneÂ also created a few headlines after defeating one of the tournament favourite,Â Marlborough College, in fine style.
Their reward though was a quarter final withÂ Dulwich CollegeÂ who were in no mood to give up their title.Â DulwichÂ defeated the impressiveÂ SherborneÂ outfit to set up a semi final withÂ Hampton, while on the same dayÂ WarwickÂ edged through by the tightest of margins, drawing 10-10 withÂ Wilmslow HighÂ but going through as the away side.
Perhaps even more dramatically though, was the quarter final to decided their semi final opposition,Â Northampton School for Boys, who had been superb all tournament but always underestimated, sneaked past aÂ Kingâ€™s MacclesfieldÂ side who had been in fine form by the tightest of scorelines, 3-0.
Moving into the mid point of the Lent Term the sevens season got underway, withÂ Kingâ€™s WorcesterÂ looking like the number one team in the country, winning four of their first five tournaments.
It was all about the build up to the Rosslyn Park National School Sevens as the term progressed, and the likes ofÂ Whitgift, Brighton, Millfield, SGS FiltonÂ andÂ SedberghÂ all looked like potential champions.
Kingâ€™s WorcesterÂ continued to lead the way though, withÂ George De CothiÂ in particular looking like a real talent on a sevens field.
The AASE Championship was also bubbling along quite nicely, many of the sides were stretched through Premiership U18, International and Sevens commitments butÂ Hartpury, FiltonandÂ OaklandsÂ were all looking like seriously impressive outfits.
For four teams though sevens was but a sideshow, asÂ Dulwich, Hampton, Northampton School for BoysÂ andÂ WarwickÂ all headed to Broadstreet RFC for the Daily Mail Cup semi finals.
DulwichÂ just saw offÂ HamptonÂ in one of the most intense schoolboy matches you will see, keeping their back to back dream alive and extending their unbeaten run.
In the other semi finalÂ WarwickÂ took control of the game asÂ NSBÂ looked like they had finally come to the end of the road, however a stunning late comeback from the Northamptonshire side saw them force their way into the final at Twickenham.
Dulwich’s captain, Dom Wroe Wright, claims a lineout in their Daily Mail Cup semi final
From Broadstreet in Coventry it was on to Richmond Athletic Ground in South West London for the Surrey Sevens.
Regarded by some as the toughest sevens tournament on the circuit, it is often seen as the biggest indicator of form ahead of the Rosslyn Park sevens.
Oaklands CollegeÂ took the title after looking almost unstoppable all day, they knew many of their big players would be on international duty over Rosslyn Park so their determination to show their skills in the Surrey Sevens was clear to all.
It wasÂ Wellington CollegeÂ who best showed their hand ahead of Rosslyn Park though, withÂ Charlie WickÂ andÂ Simon SextonÂ showing that they had the capability to unlock any defence that they came up against.
Just a week later they demonstrated that capability again as they stormed to the Rosslyn Park Festival final, romping pastÂ Tonbridge SchoolÂ in the final in a performance full of pace, skill and sevens know how.
What made the manner ofÂ Wellingtonâ€™sÂ play all the more impressive was the fact that the Festival was being played out in condition more akin to Glastonbury. Indeed so challenging were the conditions that the Colts tournament had to be cancelled.
The following day saw the start of the Open tournament where there was an immediate shock asÂ Millfield, the competitionâ€™s most successful team in recent years and among the 2013 favourites, were knocked out at the group stages after blowing a healthy lead in their final game.
Filton, Woodhouse GroveÂ andÂ OaklandsÂ battled it out in the Group of Death but it wasÂ Woodhouse GroveÂ who finished out on top, they surprised a few but adapted brilliantly to the conditions, making it all the way to the final.
However in the final they came up against aÂ SedberghÂ side who had been in rampant form across the two days, blitzing past anyone and everyone, they came across a game plan that could defy the conditions and showcase all of their considerable talents.
They showed all of that talent in the final, beatingÂ Woodhouse GroveÂ by just one score to set up a fascinating Twickenham showdown withÂ Wellington CollegeÂ after it had been announced that the Festival and Open champions would play each other at the London Sevens on the weekend of the 11thÂ May for the ultimate schoolboy sevens bragging rights.
While they settled down to rest,Â DulwichÂ andÂ Northampton School for BoysÂ were preparing for their battle royale at Twickenham in the Daily Mail Cup final.
Both were resplendent in new kit, withÂ NSBÂ having their donated by old boy Courtney Lawes as they bid for their first ever Cup victory, whileÂ Dulwich CollegeÂ were trying to dampen expectations as they went in as heavy favourites to make it two in a row.
A magnificent game followed withÂ Dulwich CollegeÂ realising their back to back dream and elevating themselves into Schoolboy greats status, withÂ NSBÂ gaining much credit too, despite defeat, after a performance full of heart and spirit.
There was no let up in the schoolboy schedule to eulogise aboutÂ Dulwichâ€™sÂ victory though as it was onto the Sedbergh Tens the following day.
Sedbergh, buoyed by their Rosslyn Park win, were looking good, however the tournament belonged toÂ SGS FiltonÂ who won the title for the second successive year, a deserved victory after promising much all term
Wellington win the Rosslyn Park Festival
The end of the Easter holidays signalled the end of the traditional schoolboy season, however there was still the matter of the AASE Championship to be wrapped up.
Hartpury CollegeÂ have dominated this tournament since its inception and so it proved again as they defeatedÂ Oaklands CollegeÂ 20-10 in the final to underline their status as the kings of the AASE Championship.
All that remains to be decided now is theÂ Wellington College v SedberghÂ match at the London Sevens for schoolboy sevens bragging rights, a fitting conclusion to a magnificent season of rugby.
Roll of Honour:
Daily Mail Cup â€“ Dulwich College
Daily Mail Vase â€“ Yarm School
St Josephâ€™s Festival â€“ Millfield School
AASE Championship â€“Hartpury College
Rosslyn Park Open â€“ Sedbergh School
Rosslyn Park Festival â€“ Wellington College
Surrey Sevens â€“ Oaklands College
Sedbergh Tens â€“ Filton College
Our next Team of the Month Award will be a Team of the Season Award, do get in touch to let us know who you think should win and why.
Weâ€™d also like to hear your thought on Player of the Season, Young Player of the Season (No U6th) & Sevens Player of the Season.