Hampton won their own Hampton School Founders’ Day 7s with a dramatic victory over Cranleigh in the final.
After exchanging the lead throughout the final, the game finished at 19-19, a fitting end to a wonderful day of rugby. A winner still had to be decided on though, cue much discussion on the touchlines of what would happen, would it be a kicking competition, were we able to have extra time?
There was time, and just enough light, for extra time, and what a joy that was. It was a sudden death situation, or a ‘Golden Goal’ to use 1990s football parlance. One way or another now, we were going to get drama.
The extra period ebbed and flowed, neither side wanting to risk giving away points, before suddenly Hampton burst down the right hand side. Some outstanding cover defence from Cranleigh halted the move just metres short of the line and it felt like the chance was gone.
Cranleigh eventually poached the ball and moved back upfield and away from immediate danger. In sudden death you might only get one chance, so it was a worry for Hampton that theirs had been and gone. However the seven men on the field showed no signs of any such worries.
They have already shown their quality under pressure in tournament finals before this season, when the won the St Joseph’s Festival, and they did so again here. Winning back the ball they once again went wide to the right hand side where Mike Woollatt was released to turn on the afterburners and race away to score the most dramatic of tries.
It sparked joyous celebrations from the home faithful as the referee duly blew his final whistle to end the game and the tournament.
It was a fittingly dramatic end to what had been a fairly dramatic day too.
The structure of the tournament was that there were two groups of five. The winners of each group would meet in the final, with the runners up meeting in the Plate final.
In Group 2, that was a relatively simple affair. Cranleigh stormed to the top of the table, winning all four of their matches, 19-7 against St Paul’s, 41-0 against Tiffin, 24-5 against St Joseph’s College, and, crucially, 26-7 against John Fisher. That game against John Fisher was the group decided as both arrived with three wins from three. Cranleigh’s victory saw them go through to the Cup final, while John Fisher would have to make do with the Plate final.
So while that group was relatively drama free, Group 1 was a minefield. Hampton, St Benedict’s, and Brighton College all finished up level on points at the end of the group, having each picked up three wins and a defeat.
All three had beaten Campion and Caterham with relative ease, Caterham then beat Campion to finish above them in the table, but when it came to playing each other, there was no such simplicity.
Hampton started off the day on the wrong foot, losing 21-5 to St Benedict’s. It then seemed like Brighton College would be the side to emerge on top after they then beat St Benedict’s 19-10, only for Hampton to come bouncing back and beat Brighton College 17-12. Each side had beaten one of the other top three and lost to the other.
It meant that as the final whistle blew after St Benedict’s 56-22 win over Caterham in the final round of the Group stage, the calculators were out for Group 1. Try count was the deciding factor, and that meant that Brighton College were the side who were heading home, and you could not help but feel for them, they had been excellent.
It was therefore between Hampton and St Benedict’s for the place in the final, and Hampton just edged that countback, sending them to meet Cranleigh, while St Benedict’s would meet John Fisher in the Plate.
Sadly for St Benedict’s, despite being a whisker away from the main final, they could not get past John Fisher in the final. The Croydon based side won 33-7, once again proving that when the 7s season comes around, John Fisher always end up as a side to be reckoned with. It is no accident that they have reached the Rosslyn Park final in the past two seasons.
So then to the final between Hampton and Cranleigh, it truly was a fitting end to a day that had gripped everyone. It might not have been cold and wintry, but some of the rugby was most definitely of the summer 7s variety, capped by that wonderful moment from Woollatt to finish.
As the 7s season ticks on, we can be sure that we will be seeing plenty more from the likes of Hampton, Cranleigh, John Fisher, St Benedict’s, and Brighton College at the business end of tournaments to come.
For photo from the Hampton 7s, please head to our Facebook Page.
Hampton School Founders’ Day 7s Champions – Hampton
Hampton 24-19 Cranleigh
John Fisher 33-7 St Benedict’s
|Hampton School Founders’ Day 7s – Final Group Standings|
|Pos||Group 1||Group 2|
|2||St Benedict’s||John Fisher|
|3||Brighton College||St Paul’s|
|4||Caterham||St Joseph’s College|