Now that the school term has begun after what was hopefully a long, happy, and restful Christmas break, the time has come to look back at the previous term and for you to vote for the School Team of the Term.
It was a fascinating term of rugby, perhaps one of the most competitive in recent times, with very few sides able to break out and completely dominated. Many of the teams we have associated with total success in the last few years seemed brilliant one week, yet vulnerable the next. It made for some superb rugby.
Once again the Champions Trophy was a pleasure to witness, and threw up some of the most outstanding games of the season round by round. The St Joseph’s Festival was, as ever, an outstanding two days of rugby that saw some extraordinary moments of skill and commitment.
The NatWest Cup built to a real crescendo by the end of the term, as we enter the business end at the start of this term it is going to be fiercely competitive, if the last few rounds are anything to go by.
Roundup up the competitions, of course, there was the Daily Mail Trophy. It certainly proved to be a fascinating competition this year, with calculators at the ready throughout the final few weekend’s as we all tried to work out which sides were in with a shout of winning. It boiled down to three in the end, the unbeaten Kirkham and Bedford, and last year’s Champions, Wellington College.
Opinions, conspiracies, and controversies all circulated, but in the end it certainly proved to be one of the most dramatic and competitive competitions of the term.
Then of course there were the regular season fixtures, which as always are the spine and the beating heart of the school season. All over the country there was some great rugby played, and not just by the ‘elite’ from top to bottom there was some brilliant rugby on show, and some truly astonishing games and results. It really was a joyful term to be a part of.
All of which made selecting our 5 team shortlist for the School Team of the Term a tricky task. Hopefully you will agree that the five sides listed below all merit their place on the list.
Team of the Term shortlist:
Bedford were truly astonishing all term. They won the Champions Trophy in style, beating a good Epsom College side convincingly in the final. They went unbeaten throughout the term, and finished third in the Daily Mail Trophy, staying in contention for the title right up until the final, despite having played fewer games than their rivals having had to cancel games due to their Champions Trophy commitments. Had those games gone ahead, they would likely have picked up the title.
It says a lot about this Bromsgrove team that we have a sneaking suspicion that they might actually be even better than last year’s NatWest Cup winning side. Like Bedford, Bromsgrove went unbeaten throughout the term, and finished up fourth in the Daily Mail Trophy table. The only blot on their copybook was a draw at RGS High Wycombe, while over in the NatWest Cup they are looking like a good shout to retain the title as they moved seamlessly into the last 16, beating Abingdon 45-17 in the last round.
Hampton picked up arguably their greatest triumph in the school’s rugby history last term when they won the St Joseph’s Festival for the first time. It is one of the most challenging schools tournaments that there is, and they were simply unplayable all tournament. The only try the conceded all weekend came in the final. They also moved into the last 16 of the NatWest Cup and secured a top 15 finish in the Daily Mail Trophy table, and had just three losses to their name all term.
Kirkham Grammar School
Kirkham Grammar School were truly outstanding all term. They finished up unbeaten with eleven wins from eleven games, the most brilliant of which was an astonishing 27-0 effort against schools rugby giants, Sedbergh. It came oh so close to them picking up the Daily Mail Trophy title, they missed out by just 0.02 points, and agonisingly narrow margin. Indeed it was probably only the weather that stopped them, a cancelled game against Sir Thomas Rich’s would probably have won them the title had it gone ahead, while horrendous conditions prevented much try scoring in a 7-0 win over Barnard Castle.
Wellington College began the year by picking up the School Team of the Year award at the National Rugby Awards in early September as a result of their efforts in the 2014/15 season, and they ended the term by picking up a second successive Daily Mail Trophy title. It was a season that was not without its struggles, but with some brilliant victories such as their 40-12 decimation of Millfield, there was no doubting that this is a side with an abundance of quality. With a backline that still possesses a hatful of internationals, expect them to be a handful once again during the 7s season again too.
There is your shortlist, all that remains is for you to vote below for your School Team of the Term, the results of which will be announced on Friday 15th January.
(TIP – If you are having any trouble voting, use your mobile phone and turn OFF wifi, using 3G/4G you should be able to vote – in the past the system has been confused by multiple users on the same school wifi network.)