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School Rugby – End of Season Review

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.

Michaelmas Term

The year began with the likes of Marlborough, Radley and Durham 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 Joseph’s Festival in October. The 2011 competition had been won by Dulwich College as they went on to do the St Joseph’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 was Millfield School. 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 where Millfield showed admirable strength up front to become the first team, and only team of the season, to withstand the pressure from the awesome Dulwich pack.

Victory over John Fisher in the final followed for Millfield who also collected the Player of the Tournament award through Sam Denham, and the try of the tournament from Tom Whiteley.

Half term followed the St Joseph’s Festival and on the return to school weather inevitably began to halt the progress of a few sides. Bedford 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 of Wellington College, RGS High Wycombe and King’s Macclesfield 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, with Durham, Dulwich, Millfield, Marlborough, King’s Macclesfield, Radley and Wellington all showing an exceptional amount of quality and sustaining an incredibly high level of performance.

Millfield took perhaps the most eagerly anticipated game of the term when they travelled to Wellington after an outbreak of mumps at Sedbergh saw their fixture cancelled, however it was Marlborough College 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

Lent Term

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 College were looking to take back-to-back titles in the tournament, however it was Hampton School who were looking the most threatening side in the competition in the early stages of 2013.

Wilmslow High School and created a few waves as they marched into the quarter finals, while Sherborne also created a few headlines after defeating one of the tournament favourite, Marlborough College, in fine style.

Their reward though was a quarter final with Dulwich College who were in no mood to give up their title. Dulwich defeated the impressive Sherborne outfit to set up a semi final with Hampton, while on the same day Warwick edged through by the tightest of margins, drawing 10-10 with Wilmslow High but going through as the away side.

Perhaps even more dramatically though, was the quarter final to decided their semi final opposition, Northampton School for Boys, who had been superb all tournament but always underestimated, sneaked past a King’s Macclesfield 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, with King’s Worcester 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 of Whitgift, Brighton, Millfield, SGS Filton and Sedbergh all looked like potential champions.

King’s Worcester continued to lead the way though, with George De Cothi 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 but Hartpury, Filtonand Oaklands were all looking like seriously impressive outfits.

For four teams though sevens was but a sideshow, as Dulwich, Hampton, Northampton School for Boys and Warwick all headed to Broadstreet RFC for the Daily Mail Cup semi finals.

Dulwich just saw off Hampton 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 final Warwick took control of the game as NSB 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 College 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 was Wellington College who best showed their hand ahead of Rosslyn Park though, with Charlie Wick and Simon Sexton 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 past Tonbridge School in the final in a performance full of pace, skill and sevens know how.

What made the manner of Wellington’s 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 as Millfield, the competition’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 Grove and Oaklands battled it out in the Group of Death but it was Woodhouse Grove 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 a Sedbergh 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, beating Woodhouse Grove by just one score to set up a fascinating Twickenham showdown with Wellington College after it had been announced that the Festival and Open champions would play each other at the London Sevens on the weekend of the 11th May for the ultimate schoolboy sevens bragging rights.

While they settled down to rest, Dulwich and Northampton School for Boys were preparing for their battle royale at Twickenham in the Daily Mail Cup final.

Both were resplendent in new kit, with NSB having their donated by old boy Courtney Lawes as they bid for their first ever Cup victory, while Dulwich College were trying to dampen expectations as they went in as heavy favourites to make it two in a row.

A magnificent game followed with Dulwich College realising their back to back dream and elevating themselves into Schoolboy greats status, with NSB 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 about Dulwich’s 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 to SGS Filton who won the title for the second successive year, a deserved victory after promising much all term

Wellington win the Rosslyn Park Festival

Summer Term

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 College have dominated this tournament since its inception and so it proved again as they defeated Oaklands College 20-10 in the final to underline their status as the kings of the AASE Championship.

All that remains to be decided now is the Wellington College v Sedbergh 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 – Dulwich College

Daily Mail Vase – Yarm School

St Joseph’s Festival – Millfield School

AASE Championship –Hartpury College

Rosslyn Park Open – Sedbergh School

Rosslyn Park Festival – Wellington College

Surrey Sevens – Oaklands College

Sedbergh Tens – 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.

 

We’d also like to hear your thought on Player of the Season, Young Player of the Season (No U6th) & Sevens Player of the Season.

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