Tonbridge School repeated their 2014 final success over Epsom College winning 12-7, while Wellington College Girls made an impressive debut in 7s competition overcoming Wallington County Grammar School by a score of 17-0.
Heavy overnight rain had already made the Hartswood pitches very soft at the start of play and several torrential downpours during the afternoon made playing conditions challenging during the knockout stages, with the mud in some areas reminiscent of Passchendaele. It is to the credit of the players and officials that a high level of play was maintained despite that.
In the boys’ competition the Group stages saw some surprises with perennial favourites Wellington and John Fisher failing to progress to the knockout stage of the main competition. In the quarter finals some well fancied sides that had looked impressive in winning their groups went out, with Hampton losing to Tonbridge and Brighton going down to St John’s Leatherhead, both by two try margins. The hosts, still without key centre Max Coyle, concussed when playing for Harlequins in the U18 Academy League finals, were level with Sherborne at halftime before losing 7-12. One semi final saw an ultimately comfortable win for Epsom over Sherborne, but the other could hardly have been closer, with Tonbridge producing a late converted try and then holding out against St John’s 14-12.
The final saw Epsom control possession and territory for almost all the first half and it seemed inevitable that they would score first, but they were denied by two excellent try saving tackles in the corner by wing Oliver Ward. Finally breaking out of their own half, Tonbridge took a 5-0 lead at the interval with a try by forward Nico Lykiardopoulos. The second half saw Epsom take a 7-5 lead, as a loose ball on the Tonbridge 22 was fly hacked through and quick ball recycled to centre Logan Didier (ultimately voted by the Referees as player of the tournament) who scored under the posts. However is was again Lykiardopoulos who showed good athleticism to score the decisive try, captain David Wilkinson adding the conversion to complete the scoring.
In the boys’ other knockout stages, Caterham prevailed over Wallington 17-12 in the Plate, Portsmouth G.S. edged London Oratory 21-19 in the Shield, and City of London Freemens beat Wellington 29-0 in the Bowl.
The girls’ final was much closer than the final score might suggest. Wallington dominated possession in the first half. Their powerful runners may arguably have been hampered by the slippery conditions, but if so that should in no way detract from the tremendous defence by Wellington who had been late entrants into the tournament. Many on the touchline winced at some of the collisions as fearless tackles flew in. Counter attacks by the Crowthorne side saw tries either side of halftime by the athletic Sophie Ragg and they were ultimately well deserved winners. The Surrey school had some consolation as Catherine Rose was voted player of the tournament.
Reigate Charity 7s Winners:
Cup – Tonbridge
Plate – Caterham
Shield – Portsmouth Grammar School
Bowl – City of London Freemen’s
Girls – Wellington College