With next Friday being Christmas Day, the is the final Weekend Review before Christmas so do let me take this chance to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.
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It has been quite a term! Since Fifteen Rugby began, this has been probably the most open and unpredictable school season of all. The outstanding Bedford, Bromsgrove, and Kirkham Grammar School, along with a few select others such as Berkhamsted, have been incredibly consistent, but beyond that tiny handful it has felt almost random at times as to who will and will not win.
Our weekly predictions have certainly reflected that, it has become a bit of a sport over here actually predicting how many messages we will get on Twitter on a Saturday or Sunday telling us just how wrong we were with such and such a prediction!
Three major trophies have been collected this term, the St Joseph’s Festival, the Champions Trophy, and the Daily Mail Trophy. Each has been won by a different side, and each has provided its own outstanding entertainment.
Back in October Hampton won their first ever St Joseph’s Festival title, they were truly the outstanding side all weekend and played some glorious rugby in what is such a difficult format to master. With games so short that a single try or penalty can regularly be the only score of the game, it is about solid defence and bold attacking decision making. You must make your scoring opportunities count because they may be the only ones you get.
The next title up for grabs was the Champions Trophy in November at Allianz Park. The 32 team competition culminated in a final between Epsom College and Bedford, both of whom had come through extraordinary semi finals, Bedford’s away win at Sedbergh being a particular triumph. Bedford showed the class in the final that has seen many argue that they are the best side in the country, and they did so playing in the same style that they have long had, they were a joy to watch.
The final, and most controversial, of titles to be won was the Daily Mail Trophy, which saw Wellington College top the table for the second year in succession. This year it was a fierce battle though, with Bedford and Kirkham Grammar snapping at their heels and dragging the competition all the way to the final weekend, with Bromsgrove and Sedbergh not far behind.
Controversy came in the shape of Kirkham and Bedford finishing unbeaten in second and third behind Wellington College with four defeats to their name, while the cancellation of a game against St Benedict’s in the final week for Kirkham continues to cause a bit of a ruckus. More facts are required on that particular controversy though before it is worth making any sort of meaningful comment on.
This was the closest ever Daily Mail Trophy table though, which only serves to illustrate the point about this being such a topsy turvy season in which some schools were playing sublime rugby one week followed by a baffling defeat the next – it has been quite brilliant to watch and follow. Wellington College were perhaps the epitome of that, at times their rugby was just breataking, absolutely scintillating, but on other weeks they were beaten in games that they just should not have lost. It was been enthralling viewing.
With so many of last year’s astonishing 7s side still around, they are going to be quite spectacular again next term when the 7s season begins again.
That is what we have to look forward to next term, the 7s season, culminating of course in the HSBC Rosslyn Park National Schools 7s, which we are proud to say we are the media partners for.
There is also the NatWest Cup, in which Bromsgrove are looking nearly unstoppable again, along with the Vase and U15 competitions, as well as the ISRFC Lambs fixtures and tour, the U18 Academy Premiership, plus the U18 and U20 internationals. It is going to be a busy and exciting few months of schools and age-grade rugby, and let’s not forget the BMW Wellington International Festival over Easter with the U16s.
We’ve enjoyed every minute of this term and can’t wait for next, but in the meantime, if you have any comments or suggestions, or criticisms, please do get in touch through firstname.lastname@example.org – they will be forwarded straight through to me.
With many of our newsletter subscribers being parents, I am particularly keen to hear what sort of coverage suits you and what you want to see.
For now, Merry Christmas to you all, have a very Happy New Year, and thank you, once again, for your support.