A group of schoolboys from the North East of England, playing as the Gilbert Super 7s, secured a remarkable victory this weekend at the Chester Men’s Open 7s.
The team was made up of the best players from the U18 North East Schools Super 7s Series this year.
Those familiar with schools rugby will know that four years ago the series was set up, with all the tournaments on the North East HMC Schools circuit counting towards points for the finishing position in the Super 7s Series, much like on the IRB 7s circuit.
This year the organisers went a step further, slecting the 12 best players form the U18 series, which compromised tournaments at Durham, Ampleforth College, Hymers College, and Mount St Mary’s.
Six schools were represented in the squad, Woodhouse Grove, Sedbergh, QEGS Wakefield, Durham, Bradford Grammar School, and Barnard Castle. Durham had the most players in the squad, with James Elliott, Garry Izomore, and James Pratt. Sedbergh had two, Max Davies and Jonny Keh, as did QEGS, Tom Allott and Connor Field, Bradford Grammar, Adam Waring and James Pinder, and Barnard Castle, James Jennings and Tom Metcalfe. Woodhouse Grove were the only side with one representative, Alfred Nordgren.
The squad was coached by Ben Mason and Mark Bedworth of Durham, as well as Sedbergh Director of Rugby, Simon Mulholland. That coaching and playing excellence married perfectly as the Gilbert Super 7s side won all five of their games, in a competition that included the likes of the Royal Marines, to lift the Chester Men’s Open.
It was a stunning achievement from a group of schoolboys against teams of experienced men. Yet watching the highlights it is clear that these schoolboys were in a class of their own, perhaps most impressively in keeping a clean sheet in the final as they beat the Clean Sweep Rascals 29-0.
Of course teams like this do not come together easily, they require great planning and funding, something that Head Coach Ben Mason was keen to that their sponsors for: “The squad would like to thank a number of sponsors for backing this new initiative. Elite sports management company, Top Marque Sports, were the main sponsor along with Gilbert Rugby, Edwin Doran sports travel and Global Bridge.”
You can see highlights from the Gilbert Super 7s side at the Chester Men’s Open 7s below:
Gilbert Super 7s Squad:
James Jennings (Barnard Castle)
Tom Metcalfe (Barnard Castle)
James Pinder (Bradford Grammar School)
Adam Waring (Bradford Grammar School)
James Elliott (Durham)
Garry Izomore (Durham)
Josh Pratt (Durham)
Tom Allott (QEGS Wakefield)
Connor Field (QEGS Wakefield)
Max Davies (Sedbergh)
Jonny Keh (Sedbergh)
Alfred Nordgren (Woodhouse Grove)
Ben Mason (Durham)
Simon Mulholland (Sedbergh)
Mark Bedworth (Durham)
Gilbert Super 7s Results at the Chester Men’s Open 7s:
Cup Final: 29-0 v Clean Sweep Rascals
Cup Semi Final: 32-17 v Liverpool BaaBaas
35-14 v Cheshire BaaBaas
62-5 v Rooster 7s
33-7 v Harlech BaaBaas