Warwick School’s U15s will join their U18s at Twickenham for the NatWest Cup finals on Wednesday 29th March after beating Ivybridge Community College 33-22 in the U15 semi finals at Allianz Park.
It is an extraordinary feat for the West Midlanders, who last achieved it back in 2013. On that day the U18s took a heavy loss, but the U15s were victorious. That 2013 U15 victory was the start of a very special period for Warwick rugby that continues to this day.
Having won in 2013, they then backed it up with a second victory in 2014, before returning to Twickenham in 2015, only to lose that time to QEGS Wakefield, the side that they had beaten in both of those previous two finals.
Not making the 2016 final hurt, even though it was a different group of players, and this 2017 vintage wanted desperately to carry on that incredible recent Warwick tradition of reaching that final, inspired by their U18 schoolmates.
They had to work for it at Allianz Park though, really work for it. They were the dominant side throughout a hugely tense first half, and scored early on through hooker Matt Rigby smashing through on a short drive. Rigby, incidentally, is the younger brother of the U18 skipper, Nick, yet more inspiration for this latest group of young Warwick players.
That Rigby try was all that Warwick’s endeavor was rewarded with in the first half though. Try as they might, Ivybridge were simply too strong and committed in defence, with outside centre Jamie Moore a defender of particular quality on the day.
There was a sense that having kept the Warwick score down, if Ivybridge could show of their renowned attacking play in the second half, they could take this semi final. However it was Warwick who were first to display their attacking flair.
Within just five minutes of the restart fly half Finlay Smith excecuted a glorious kick and chase to go flying under the posts for a stunning individual try. With scrum half Jack Aston converting, Warwick’s 5-0 lead was now up to 12.
Ivybridge, as we had seen in the first half, are not a side to back down, and then proved that again in some style just a couple of minutes after that Warwick try, with number 8 Jake Bond absolutely crashing over, with his winger Mason King converting to narrow the gap to 12-7.
This sparked a topsy-turvy period of the game, with each side exchanging scores, first Warwick with Harry Spencer smashing though on a brilliant line before Ivyrbridge almost immediately hit back with a fine finish from right wing Mason King.
By the end of that little period Warwick were 19-12 ahead. The game was in the balance. It is in these periods were games like these are decided, and where the truly top teams make a difference.
In this crucial period it was Warwick who stepped up, scoring two tries in three minutes to effectively kill the game off, both through outstanding openside Jack Forsythe.
The first was a powerful effort from ten yards out after some huge pressure from his team, the second was a wonderful rangy effort down the left hand touchline. Just to add the gloss, Aston landed both conversions, turning 19-12 into a decisive 33-12 lead.
It was the perfect display of a championship side’s mentality. Ivybridge are not far from that sort of class though, so it came as no surprise when, with time almost up, they scored a couple of quick tries of their own, first through the excellent Jamie Moore, then a second for number 8 Jake Bond, giving the score a far more respectable margin of 33-22.
It was a brave effort from Ivybridge, but for Warwick it was a display that gives them another chance to create yet more NatWest Cu history.
Indeed there is a strong argument, now, to say that Warwick are the premier school in schoolboy rugby. Certainly when their U15 and U18 records, and indeed U13 records, are all looked at as one, it is hard to think off too many other contenders.
At Twickenham on the 29th March, we will perhaps have the answer, when this wonderful group of U15 and U18 players compete in their respective finals.
Full Time: Warwick 33-22 Ivybridge Community College
|U15 NatWest Cup Semi Final 1 Teams – Warwick v Ivybridge|
|Tom Durant||1||Harry Scott|
|Matt Rigby||2||Solly Stinchcombe|
|Tom Hales||3||Ewan Stephens|
|Kai Nwangwa||4||Jack Skinner|
|Will Pugh||5||William Greenwood|
|Dan May||6||Liam Mills|
|Jack Forsythe||7||Jack Mills|
|Will Banfield||8||Jake Bond|
|Jack Aston||9||Tobin Barker|
|Finlay Smith||10||William Trinder|
|Max Hayward||11||Connor Bracher|
|Tom Boorman||12||Billy Lloyd|
|Harry Spencer||13||Jamie Moore|
|Tom Patrick||14||Mason King|
|Ethan Evan-Cook||15||Henry Varndell|
|James Parker||16||Alex Garner|
|Will Dudley||17||Noah Davies|
|Giles King||18||Alex Crawford|
|Joe Smith||19||Euan Foulkes|
|Will Mobberly||20||Riley Hutchinson (21)|
|Kunwoo Ha||21||Brandon Bonser (22)|
|Ben Beresford||22||Billy Orchard (23)|