Bromsgrove entered the pantheon of NatWest Schools Cup legends today, winning a second successive U18 title, this time beating QEGS Wakefield 18-10.
Last years victory against Dulwich College marked the ending of that great dynasty, there were signs then that this could be a very special side, and they achieved that today, coming from two tries down to win the game, joining that elite group of multiple schools cup winners.
It was not vintage Bromsgrove, not by any means. There have been times, like in the semi final against Whitgift, where they have blown apart schools of the highest calibre, but in many ways that was what made this so special, this was Bromsgrove proving that they, like all winners, can always find a way.
After 22 minutes they were 10-3 down, having taken an early lead through a James Taylor drop goal. QEGS scored twice through wing Joe Gatus and then loosehead Nathan Young at the tail of the maul, and it looked like the Yorkshire side were on the way to claiming Twickenham silverware for the second year running, having collected the U15 Cup last year, in this their 9th Schools Cup final.
The best word to describe Bromsgrove’s performance at Twickenham though was relentless, for that was what they were, indisputably relentless. QEGS might have been very impressive for much of the first half, but the sheer relentless physicality of Bromsgrove just wore them down.
By half time Bromsgrove had regained the lead, first through a try from Number 8 Beck Cutting, after some heavy Bromsgrove pressure. Such was the momentum that the QEGS wall had to crack, and Cutting was that man.
Next was a try from Cooper Bent, who scored twice in the semi final too, with just a minute left on the clock he tore away in the left hand corner, finishing off a move that lasted a good couple of minutes, sparked by a superb offload from hooker Henry Walker, who was captain on the day in place of the injured Alex Nisbett.
The second half was a quieter affair, Bromsgrove scored the only points of the half, an opportunistic tap and go from man of the match Beck Cutting to go 18-10 up.
That lack of second half points should not be mistaken for a lack of quality though, not by any means. This was a match, and a half in particular of real quality and brutal physicality. Some teams wilt under the pressure of Twickenham, not so these two. These two rose up to the occasion.
As the half wore on QEGS battered away at Bromsgrove, but the champions simply refused to let up, hounding away in defence and securing turnovers at key points.
Both fly halves played magnificently well, QEGS’ Tom Stephenson may perhaps not get the headlines as his side ultimately lost, but his flat passing on the gainline was a joy to watch.
James Taylor did last year’s fly half, Harelquins’ Luke White, proud. Not only did he control the game expertly, but he used his gliding and instinctive running to great effect, twice he guided Bromsgrove out of tough defensive positions, turning them into some pressure relieving attacking situations.
The cast list of good performances goes on. Harrison Fowke at tighthead plays with the energy of a back row, while Henry Walker at hooker is surely one of the finest in the country.
The entire Bromsgrove side deserves high praise in truth, both backs and forwards. The coaching staff too, back to back titles are not just a triumph of play but a triumph of coaching too, Tony Windo and Paul Mullan have worked wonders.
The question on everyone’s lips now is, can Bromsgrove go on to emulate Dulwich College and win three in a row? The culture is certainly there, the players are too.
Either way, this wonderful group of players have now entered the short list of NatWest Schools Cup legends.
Full Time: Bromsgrove 18-10 QEGS Wakefield
15 George James, 14 Christophe Fostier, 13 Blake Edwards, 12 Joe Hunt, 11 Cooper Bent, 10 James Taylor, 9 George Wootten, 1 Harry Ferguson, 2 Henry Walker (c), 3 Harrison Fowke, 4 Jack Weston, 5 Lawrence Weston, 6 Joe Morrice, 7 Harry Lloyd-Jones, 8 Beck Cutting.
Replacements: 16 George Smith, 17 Will Lockhart, 18 Tom Trow, 19 Jonny Howcroft, 20 Oliver Wilkinson, 21 Jonty Thornton, 22 Connor McStay.
15 George Thompson, 14 Joe Gatus, 13 Connor Field, 12 Tom Allott (c), 11 Seb Wood, 10 Tom Stephenson, 9 Sam Tovey, 1 Nathan Youngs, 2 Jack Levine, 3 Jacob Glover, 4 Tom Kay, 5 Elliot Ward, 6 Harry Watts, 7 Joe Selim, 8 Harry Clarke.
Replacements: 16 Harvey Farrar, 17 Bradley Young, 18 Edan Kelly, 19 Finlay Wotton, 20 Alex Armstrong, 21 Harry Graham, 22 Henry Longhurst.