Tuesday sees the first ever NatWest Plate and Bowl final take place. Both will be held a Worcester Warriors’ Sixways Stadium, and will include both U18 finals and U15 final.
The Plate and Bowl are new competitions for this year after the Vase was formally separated fro the Cup this year. The Plate competition is for teams knocked out in the opening round of the Cup, while the Bowl competition is for those knocked out of the first round of the Vase.
By and large, the new format has been judged a real success, despite a few teething problems on the Plate and Bowl side in terms of the number of walkovers, and Tuesday’s play at Sixways will be a hugely proud moment for of those sides taking part.
U18 Plate – Solihull v Reigate Grammar School – Tuesday 28th March, 4pm, Sixways Stadium
It has been a tough old season for Solihull, but the Plate has proved to be their answer to that as they have consistently turned in good performances. What they have also done, in the semi final and quarter final, is prove their ability to put I a gutsy display and guts out a win in a tough and close game.
In the quarter final they did superbly well to secure a 19-17 win over Wimbledon College, while in their semi final they were, if anything, more impressive in their determination. A 10-8 win away at Lymm High School is particularly impressive in this competition, as they are a school with plenty of experience in reaching the latter stages of knockout competition.
So too are Solihull, though, have won the U18 Vase back in 2011 and been U15 runners up in 2007, this is a school with a bit of NatWest pedigree. That is in contrast to Reigate Grammar School, their opponents, who despite their fame as a rugby school had never gone beyond the semi finals before.
They are a huge name in schools rugby, thanks in large part to their exploits in the 70s, and they have been a form side on the circuit for a couple of years now. This year they had a side capable of going a long way in the Cup, but injuries early in the season rather curtailed their ambitions. That they have been able to enjoy this run to the final is the perfect advert for the Plate being introduced. In years gone by even with injuries they may have reached the third or fourth round, but then had nothing to show for it, now they have been able to prove their quality.
What quality it is, too, since those injuries dried up they have been blasting through this competition. Solihull, however, are not going to roll over, they have proven that they can force a game to be tight and then they have then mental strength to see it through, so expect a big test.
Semi Final: 10-8 v Lymm High School
Quarter Final: 19-17 v Wimbledon College
Round 2: 43-20 Newcastle-Under-Lyme
Round 1: 43-17 RGS Worcester
Cup Defeat: 27-17 v King’s Worcester
U18 Vase Champions, 2011
U15 Vase Runners Up, 2007
Reigate Grammar School
Semi Final: 38-14 v Crossley Heath
Quarter Final: 53-9 v St Columba’s College
Round 2: 42-3 v Downside
Round 1: 22-12 v Portsmouth Grammar School
Cup Defeat: 29-22 v Christ’s Hospital
U18 Vase Semi Final, 2008
U18 Bowl – St Olave’s Grammar School v Old Swinford Hospital – Tuesday 28th March, 2pm, Sixways Stadium
The U18 Bowl final brings a school who had some real success around the turn of the decade right back into the high profile mix, as Old Swinford Hospital return to the trophy hunting scene.
Back in 2012 they were at Twickenham for the U18 Schools Cup final, where they lost to Dulwich College, the first of Dulwich’s three titles in succession.
Now, five years later, they are chasing NatWest glory once again, albeit this time at Sixways and in the bottom tier bowl competition. It has been a fairly comfortable tournament for them so far, and in their semi finals they beat a good Woodbridge side 24-5.
Their opponents in the final, St Olave’s Grammar School, have been preforming well in this competition, too. Despite not having their best regular season, they have really been o form in the Bowl. Even in the Vase, they were only knocked out by a slender 6-0 defeat to Gravesend, and after a gutsy 6-5 win over Langley Park in the opening round of the Bowl, they have been comfortable since.
Their crowning glory, though, was their stunning 48-17 semi final win over Bolton, a result that will send them flying into Tuesday’s final full of confidence, having already bettered their best ever Schools Cup performances, a Vase semi in 2005.
St Olave’s Grammar School
Semi Final: 48-17 v Bolton
Quarter Final: 26-5 v Lord William’s
Round 3: 21-12 v ACS Cobham
Round 2: 34-7 v Dover Grammar School
Round 1: 6-5 v Langley Park
Vase Defeat: 6-0 v Gravesend
U18 Vase Semi Final, 2005
Old Swinford Hospital
Semi Final: 24-5 v Woodbridge
Quarter Final: 32-14 v Gordon’s
Round 4: w/o v Arden
Round 3: 17-7 v Tewkesbury
Round 2: 33-5 v Shrewsbury
Round 1: 47-7 v Stafford Collegiate
Vase Defeat: 13-5 v King Edward VI, Five Ways
U18 Cup Runners Up, 2012
U15 Plate – St Paul’s v Sir Thomas Rich’s – Tuesday 28th March, 12.30pm, Sixways Stadium
The U15 Plate looks like being a very high quality game of rugby, with two teams that could have gone far in the Cup, St Paul’s and Sir Thomas Rich’s.
Both were knocked out of the Cup by tiny margins, St Paul’s losing 15-10 to Epsom College and Sir Thomas Rich’s by even less, 12-10 to Chosen Hill.
Since then they have both performed well and taken out some big names, St Paul’s seeing off the likes of London Oratory, KCS Wimbledon, and St Benedict’s, while Sir Thomas Rich’s have waved of Seaford College and in an incredibly tight game, Bishop Vesey’s, 6-3.
Whoever wins will be picking up their first Schools Cup title, St Paul’s have reached the U15 Cup final twice but never quite got over the line, while Sir Thomas Rich’s are twice losing U15 Vase finalists.
For one of these sides on Tuesday, that duck will finally be broken.
Semi Final: 24-17 St Albans
Quarter Final: 24-5 v Richard Lander
Round 4: 37-7 v Howard of Effingham
Round 3: 16-7 v St Benedict’s
Round 2: 53-17 v KCS Wimbledon
Round 1: 29-15 v London Oratory
Cup Defeat: 15-10 v Epsom College
U15 Cup Runners Up, 2007, 2005
Sir Thomas Rich’s
Semi Final: 29-10 v Seaford College
Quarter Final: 6-3 v Bishop Vesey’s Grammar School
Round 4: 22-5 v Magdalen College
Round 3: 26-7 v St Bede’s
Round 2: 35-15 v Pate’s Grammar School
Round 1: 36-5 v Katharine Lady Berkeley’s
Cup Defeat: 12-10 v Chosen Hill
U15 Vase Runners Up, 2016, 2012
U15 Bowl – Beth’s Grammar School v Pocklington – Tuesday 28th March, 11am, Sixways Stadium
The U15 Bowl will kick things off on Tuesday at 11am as Beth’s Grammar and Pocklington face off.
Both will be as far as they have ever gone in any NatWest competition, though surprisingly it is Beth’s who have gone deepest in a competition, reaching the U15 Vase quarters back in 2011.
Pocklington are the bigger name in schools rugby, which is perhaps why their record is lesser, in a way, because they have tended to stay in the Cup, therefore not getting the opportunity to progress in lower tournaments.
It looks like it will be a fairly even game on Tuesday though, both have enjoyed reasonably comfortable rides on their way to the final, and have had some big sins, Beth’s 55-33 effort over Dover Grammar standing out, and Pocklington’s two 50-0 efforts, over Wolferton and Millthrope, being particularly impressive.
Pocklington probably start as slight favourites, but it looks close and, as well all know, these finals are notoriously hard to predict.
Beth’s Grammar School
Semi Final: 24-10 v Dorothy Stringer
Quarter Final: 22-5 v King Henry VII Coventry
Round 4: 19-7 v RGS Colchester
Round 3: 55-33 v Dover Grammar School
Round 2: w/o v Hurtsmere Foundation
Round 1: 47-7 v Tunbridge Wells Grammar School
Vase Defeat: 19-12 v Skinners’
U15 Vase Quarter Final, 2011
Semi Final: 24-0 v King’s Priory
Quarter Final: 18-3 v Clevedon
Round 4: 22-17 v Birkdale
Round 3: 50-0 v Millthorpe
Round 2: 31-21 v Richmond
Round 1: 50-0 v Wolferton
Vase Defeat: 21-17 v Hull Collegiate
2017 – Best Ever Performance