Hilton College won the Rugby School International U18 7s as Rugby School celebrated their 450th Anniversary in style.
Hilton College, from South Africa, defeated Englishmen Clifton College 22-7 in the final in front of a full house at Rugby’s famous 1st XV pitch, The Close.
Bathed in glorious sunshine, this was a celebration of rugby in its purest sense as schools from all over the world met to celebrate Rugby, the school, and rugby, the game.
It was not just the players and schools that bought into it, though, it was the supporters, and the town of Rugby. Both pitches were surrounded by spectators, soaking in the sunshine, making full use of the bar, and, most importantly, taking in the fantastic rugby.
It really was fantastic rugby, and the final was a thriller. Hilton College’s 22-7 victory may look a formality on paper, but in reality the was a tight game of 7s, which could have gone either way. Once Hilton got their noses in front, though, they were ruthless in punishing an Clifton College errors as they tried to get back on level terms, eventually scoring a final try late on to take the score out to 22-7.
It was a strong turnaround for Hilton, who had been beaten reasonably comfortably by Rugby back in the group stages. They squeaked through with a narrow 17-14 win over Nelson College, from New Zealand, in the semi finals before reaching the final.
Clifton, similarly, had actually finished second in their group, behind Nelson, but then enjoyed a brilliant 32-7 win over the hosts in their semi final to face Hilton in the final.
That meant that the two group winners, Nelson College and Rugby, were in the 3rd place play off. Sometimes in these situations when a host school just misses out on the final, things can fall a little flat.
Not here though, everyone watching and playing was determined to make this a celebration of all that we love about this sport. Ahead of that 3rd place game we were treated to one of the spectacles of the tournament, just to add to the atmosphere, as Nelson College performed their haka ahead of the game.
Rugby kept their cool in the heat though, and came through with a late try for a 24-19 victory and a third place finish that was celebrated just as much as any title win, it was that kind of day.
Over in the Plate another English side, Marlborough College, picked up the silverware, beating Scotsmen Fettes College 22-12. South African side Michaelhouse beat Shawnigan Lake from Canada 24-19 for 7th place.
The Bowl final was a thriller, with Australian side Shore Sydney beating Llandovery College of Wales 21-19 in a really tense battle, meanwhile Royal Belfast of Northern Ireland beat Oita Maizuru of Japan 26-10 for 11th place.
In many ways placings were somewhat irrelevant here, this was about celebrating Rugby School, celebrating rugby union, and celebrating the efforts and achievements of the other eleven schools from all over the world, too.
As end of season wrap parties go, this was a triumph. Everyone involved, either as a player, coach, spectator, referee, or official, will remember this as a very special event.
Rugby School International U18 School 7s Results:
Hilton College 22-7 Clifton College
Rugby 24-19 Nelson College
Cup Semi Finals:
Rugby 7-32 Clifton College
Nelson College 14-17 Hilton College
Marlborough College 22-12 Fettes College
Michaelhouse 19-10 Shawnigan Lake
Plate Semi Finals:
Marlborough College 7-5 Michaelhouse
Shawnigan Lake 19-24 Fettes College
Shore Sydney 21-19 Llandovery College
Royal Belfast 26-10 Oita Maizuru
Bowl Semi Finals:
Shore Sydney 26-15 Royal Belfast Academy
Llandovery College 42-14 Oita Maizuru
Rugby School International U18 School 7s Group Final Standings (1-6)
|Group A||Group B|
|Rugby (England)||Nelson College (New Zealand)|
|Hilton College (South Africa)||Clifton College (England)|
|Marlborough College (England)||Shawnigan Lake (Canada)|
|Fettes College (Scotland)||Michaelhouse (South Africa)|
|Shore Sydney (Australia)||Llandovery College (Wales)|
|Oita Maizuru (Japan)||Royal Belfast Academy (N. Ireland)|