As we welcome in 2017 and say goodbye to 2016, we turn to you our readers as we ask you to vote for your School Team of the Term.
Our nominations have been plentiful, with over twenty schools receiving multiple nominations. Perhaps most interesting of all was the variety of reasons for nomination, with schools being put forward not just for trophy winning exploits but for punching above their weight, securing excellent season records (including a number of unbeaten teams), achieving great results against rivals, and performing well without imports in a world of many imports.
Perhaps our favourite of all though was a nomination for Radley College. Radley have not had their greatest season, results have been hard to come by. But their nomination as based on exactly what rugby is all about – the values it promotes, the togetherness and team aspect of the sport, and, as described in their nomination, a determination to keep playing and enjoying the game despite poor results.
With so many teams nominated, creating the voting shortlist was a tough and long process, with each and every side having their own merits for being on the list.
Many of those that did not make the list deserve mention too though, for instance University College School, who enjoyed one of their greatest ever seasons. So too KES Bath, who were unbeaten and quite brilliant at times. So too Manchester Grammar, who enjoyed a fine run to the NatWest Cup quarter finals.
Beechen Cliff toppled Hartpury College in the AASE, allowing Exeter College the opportunity to become the first side other than Hartpury to ever win the title.
St George’s Weybridge earned a deserved collection of nominations for their fine season, as did Silcoates and Seevic College.
Bromsgrove were unfortunate not to make the shortlist after they recovered from a shaky start to the season to enjoy a brilliant second half of term and a run to the NatWest Cup semi finals that could see them lift an historic third title in a row in March.
Canford were similarly unlucky, they reached the Champions Trophy quarter finals and enjoyed a wonderful season, where they performed outstandingly well on the South West circuit. So too Bishop Wordsworth’s, who have been in flying form and have reached the NatWest Cup quarter finals, where they face Judd – another deserving nominee.
Clifton College enjoyed the same record as Canford, with the two finished neck and neck in 6th and 7th in the Daily Mail Trophy table.
Haileybury received a huge number of nominations after a superb term that saw them claim some notable scalps including Berkhamsted and Oundle, another side to be nominated, and winning the County Cup.
A great many nominations came in for a number of schools who had performed well on their circuits without necessarily getting much in the way of headlines or silverware, often these came with captions along the lines of ‘why not give a school who are performing well but on a smaller or lower level a shot’. It is a sentiment that we agree with and we are eager to fulfill, though the strength of the shortlist afforded us no opportunity to do so.
As a result we will also be revealing our own selected ‘Emerging’ School Team of the Term when the voting for the main School Team of the Term closes on Sunday 8th January.
So to that shortlist, which is made up of ten teams. All ten could conceivably win the award, with each having been debated over long and hard to make the list.
Brighton College make the list after a superb unbeaten season that also saw them reach the St Joseph’s Festival final, were the only missed out on the title as a result of having not scored the first try in a draw in the final.
The side that did claim the title that day was Cranleigh, who also make the shortlist. They are now the reigning champions of both the St Joseph’s Festival and the HSBC Rosslyn Park National School 7s, a remarkable feat.
Exeter College became the first and only side other than Hartpury College to win the AASE title, securing themselves a well-deserved place on the list. Felsted’s giant killing season that has seen them march to the NatWest Cup semi finals, and included knocking out former champions Whitgift, seals their place on the list.
Harrow enjoyed a fine season, in which they were regularly praised as being up there with the very best in the country. Defeat occurred just once, to Wellington College, and they secured a best ever finish of 3rd in the Daily Mail Trophy.
Kirkham Grammar School finished in fifth place in the Daily Mail, but more importantly the finished the year unbeaten for the third year in a row, a truly outstanding achievement.
Rugby School also went unbeaten and on the shortlist as they enjoyed their best year since the early seventies, securing eighth in the table in the process. St Peter’s York were another to secure an unbeaten season, with their superb play taking them all the way to fourth place in the table.
The Champions Trophy has been a real success since its 2014 inception, and this year it was Tonbridge who took the honours at Allianz Park, and with it a fully deserved place on the School Team of the Term shortlist.
The final team on the shortlist is Wellington College, who this year claimed an outstanding third Daily Mail Trophy title in a row, a simply remarkable achievement.
With the shortlist selected, the job now turns to you to vote for your winners of the School Team of the Term. For those voting on mobile, with may be best to turn off wifi and use your 3G/4G as users on a network shared with multiple others may find the voting restricted if another on the network has voted.
Best of luck to those on the shortlist!