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Whitgift v QEGS Wakefield – U15 NatWest Cup Preview

QEGS Wakefield and Whitgift are two sides with enormous NatWest Cup pedigree at both U18 and U15 level.

With that in mind, their U15 NatWest Cup semi final clash at Allianz Park on Saturday is an absolutely mouth-watering prospect.

Whitgift are perhaps best known for their back-to-back triumphs at U18 level in 2010 and 2011, however they have also won the U15 competition twice, in 1999 and in 2003, with Danny Cipriani guiding operations that day.

QEGS are simultaneously one of the most prestigious sides in Schools Cup history and one of the most unlucky. They have reached the final six times, three in each age-group, and yet have never won the trophy outright, their closest effort being a share of the spoils in 1998.

That duck must surely come to an end at some point, and having reached last year’s final too, they will be determined to avenge that defeat. It could turn out to be something closer akin to revenge in the end though, the other semi final at Allianz Park this year is between Wellington College and Warwick, QEGS’ opponents in last year’s final.

Should QEGS beat Whitgift in the first semi final then there is a 50/50 shot at that final from last year against Warwick being repeated, and an opportunity for revenge for QEGS.

More than anything though, reaching the semi finals again following last year’s Cup final run just underlines the quality at QEGS’ disposal, and also the outstanding standard of their coaching – particularly given the high player turnaround.

Whitgift are not going to roll over for QEGS though, they are far too good for that. Already in this tournament they have comfortably seen off the likes of Epsom College, Hampton, and Skinners’ as well as a tight win over NatWest Vase semi finalists Graveney.

Both sides have admitted that they do not know a great deal about each other but the sense is that this is shaping up to be a superb encounter.

It is interesting that in contrast to the U18 competition, the U15 Cup winners have been spread all around the four regions fairly regularly. In fact oddly, given the dominance of the London & South East region in the U18s, in the U15s the last ‘official’ South Eastern winner was St Benedict’s in 2005, though that is using the Schools Cup system that defines Wellington College and RGS High Wycombe as South West schools.

With QEGS chasing a second final in a row, revenge, and that elusive first ever outright Schools Cup win, despite six finals, one suspects that they might just be favourites – simply on motivation. Whitgift will not be short of motivation, and with Head of Rugby Chris Wilkins pointing out that the attitude, honesty, and hard work of this side are its main strength – in other words their character – they have the right sort of qualities to negotiate a tough Cup battle.

Who do you think will win the 1st U15 NatWest Cup semi final at Allianz Park? Will QEGS get another crack at a final, or will Whitgift pip them? Let us know via @FifteenRugbyXV or comment below.

Whitgift v QEGS Wakefield, U15 NatWest Cup semi final, Allianz Park, Saturday 15th March, Kick Off 12.00

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