Wellington College last night picked up the School Team of the Year award at the National Rugby Awards in Twickenham Stadiumâ€™s Rose Room.
Shortlisted alongside them were Redcar Academy, Bromsgrove 1st XV, Monmouth 1st XV, Kirkham Grammar School 1st XV, and Chinthurst School year 3.
Redcarâ€™s U15 girls were Tees Valley Champions, while Bromsgrove were the NatWest Cup winners. Monmouth went through the season unbeaten, beating the likes of Millfield, and Kirkham Grammar School also went unbeaten, including a win over Sedbergh.
Chinthurst arguably stole the night though, their young side receiving a standing ovation from the 750 strong audience as they bid farewell as the evening moved on.
For all of the achievements and popularity of the other sides though, Wellington College were the deserved winners. Their 2014/15 season was one of the truly great schools rugby seasons. In total they lost one game, a thriller against Sedbergh and went on to lift the Daily Mail Trophy, while in the 7s season they went unbeaten, winning every tournament they entered, including the HSBC Rosslyn Park National Schools 7s.
That performance was rewarded on an individual basis, with Sam Aspland-Robinson, Conor Dolan, Matt Williams, Tom Parton, Rory Brand, Jack Ingall, and Isaac Curtis-Harris all receiving England schoolboy international honours, while captain Will Wilson, along with Aspland-Robinson, is part of the England 7s tea at the Youth Olympics in Samoa.
The key to Wellingtonâ€™s success last season though was their teamwork, and it was therefore fitting that after all of that individual honour, they have been rewarded with the ultimate team honour for a school side at the inaugural National Rugby Awards.
Praise too should go to their coaching staff, particularly Kevin Brennan and Steve Shorthand, who requested not to be nominated by their supporters within the school for the Coach of the Year award as they did not want to deflect attention fro the achievements of the players and the team. There could not be a finer example of the honour, humbleness, and sense of team that they have tried and succeeded in instilling in their charges.
Of course with the award coming just three days before the start of the new school season, thoughts for the school are already on searching for further glories.
Already they have completed an excellent tour of South Africa and a solid win over Brighton College in pre-season last weekend. Now on Saturday they face RGS High Wycombe, a side who are always strong and will arrive at Wellingtonâ€™s Bigside 1st XV home with a win already under their belts, having beaten Solihull in the Daily Mail Trophy opener on Tuesday.
Wellington are defending that title though, and now arrive officially recognised as the top school team last year. With a big crowd expected, they will be determined to carry on last yearâ€™s legacy in style on Saturday.
To see a full write up of the National Rugby Awards evening, have a look at The Rugby Paper this Sunday.
By Angus Savage