The U15 NatWest Cup has become a bit of a two horse race, for the third year in succession Warwick and QEGS Wakefield will contest the final at Twickenham.
That might read as a criticism, but it should not be taken as such, that two schools have managed to make the final three years running is astonishing. Only once has that happened before, with RGS High Wycombe back in the nineties.
It is an astonishing feat of coaching and culture as much as anything else. This is not like 1st XV level, where one good yeargroup can effectively buy you two years worth of success, at U15 level there is near enough to 100% player turnaround, meaning that every season is a completely fresh start. Therefore to reach three finals shows either an astonishingly consistent quality of players come through, or some truly excellent coaching is taking place.
Of course there is some of both, both teams are clearly playing excellent rugby, QEGS are unbeaten this season, while Warwick have lost just once, to the greatest rugby school in Ireland, Blackrock College. This is a truly heavyweight U15 clash.
QEGS, if anything, appear to be getting better through the rounds in this competition, beating Dulwich Colelge 31-7 in the quarter finals and then the unbeaten Wirral Grammar School 29-5 in the semi final. They have conceded just 31 points all tournament, an astonishing record.
Warwick have been finding it tougher as the tournament goes on by contrast, but then their last two games have been against Brighton College and Wellington College, two of the very best in the country. And of course they won both. They too are miserly in defence, only conceding forty points, half of those were in that one game against Brighton too.
Choosing between the too is incredibly tough, Warwick maybe posses the mental edge due to the fact that in the two previous finals they have won, but that could perhaps mean that QEGS are the more motivated heading into this, looking to finally break that runners up streak.
Of course due to the player turnaround those previous finals really might count for nothing, as the coaches will doubtless say, very few, if any, of the players on show were involved.
Whatever happens, history awaits. Both have already made history just by being there, they join RGS High Wycombe as the only sides to reach three U15 finals in a row. A win for Warwick would make them the most successful U15 side ever. RGS won three in a row but their third title was shared with, coincidentally, QEGS, so an outright win for Warwick would put them at the top of the tree.
For QEGS this is an eigth Schools Cup final at all age-groups, the have lost six times, sharing the title in the seventh with RGS as mentioned above. Surely their duck must break at some point?
They will just be wishing that is was not their nemesis of late, Warwick, opposite them.
Whichever way this one goes, history awaits, and a spectacular game of schools rugby is in store.
Warwick v QEGS Wakefield – U15 NatWest Cup Semi Final â€“ Wednesday 25th March, 13.00, Twickenham
Stats & Prediction
Route to the Final:
Round 1: Bye
Round 2: Bye
Round 3: 56-0 v Princethorpe College
Round 4: 47-7 v Rugby
Round 5: 53-3 v Solihull
Round 6: 24-0 v Ellesmere College
Last 16: 59-5 v Langley
Quarter Final: 14-10 v Wellington College
Semi Final: 33-20 v Brighton College
Round 1: Bye
Round 2: Bye
Round 3: 50-0 v Hill House
Round 4: 59-0 v Hymers College
Round 5: 51-0 v Nottingham High School
Round 6: 15-12 v Durham
Last 16: 13-7 v St Ambrose College
Quarter Final: 31-7 v Dulwich College
Semi Final: 29-5 v Wirral Grammar School
2014 NatWest Cup Record:
Warwick â€“ Champions
QEGS Wakefield â€“ Runners Up
Best Cup Run:
Warwick â€“ 2014, 2013, U15 Cup Champions
QEGS Wakefield â€“ 1998, U15 Cup Shared Winners; 2014, 2013, 2006 U15 Cup Runners Up
XV Prediction: Warwick. Mentally they must surely have the edge given the last two finals. That said, QEGS will be highly motivated to end this stretch of runners up medals, and given their unbeaten record this season are well placed to do so. Ought to be a great game.