On Wednesday afternoon at Allianz Park the fourth ever Schools Champions Trophy final takes place as Dulwich College take on Blundell’s.
Kicking off at 14.15 at Saracens’ Allianz Park, the game will be a groundbreaking one for schools rugby in England as it will be broadcast live on TV, with the game being shown on live TV on Premier Sports, Sky Channel 428 (HD) or 462 (SD).
We will be there live at the ground giving you our thoughts on Twitter and Instagram, as well as plenty of build up and follow up to the game, as these two magnificent sides go head to head.
Blundell’s have been one of the form teams in the country this year, not only are they in the Champions Trophy final, but they also sit in seventh place in the Daily Mail Trophy table, having only been beaten once all season.
The Devon men have been on flying form, including thumping wins over two giants of the school game, Millfield and Clifton College, but it is in the Champions Trophy where they have really made their mark.
For a couple of years they have been knocking on the door in this most competitive of schoolboy competitions. However time and time again they have been thwarted by their nemesis in this competition, Epsom College, who have twice knocked them out in the latter stages of the tournament.
This year the two met again, seemingly drawn together by fate, but it was Blundell’s that were to emerge victorious, finally able to overcome this great obstacle and doing so in quite stunning style, beating the 2015 finalists by a commanding 31-7 margin.
That was in the second round, following a good win over Sherborne, and was succeeded by a quarter final win over Stowe and an enormously impressive 27-5 semi final win over Kingswood, who were, up until that point, going all guns blazing for an unbeaten season.
Now they face Dulwich College in Wednesday’s final and Dulwich, like Blundell’s, are looking formidable. The South East London side are looking to make a bit of history as they aim to become the first U18 Schools Cup winners to also win the Champions Trophy.
The three previous winners, Tonbridge, Bedford, and Millfield had never won the Schools Cup, though Millfield had at U15 level, giving the side that won the title three times in a row in 2012, 2013, and 2014, a chance to make yet another bit of schools rugby history.
For Dulwich one of the key games was their quarter final against Bromsgrove. It was a game with a huge amount of back story behind it as Bromsgrove were the side to end Dulwich’s run of successive Schools Cup titles, beating them in the 2015 final and going on to win back to back titles of their own.
Like Dulwich, they too had a chance to make history and become the first side to win both senior schools rugby competitions, but Dulwich put in one of the performances of their season to secure a brilliant 37-19 victory away from home.
They had already made waves in the first round with a thumping win over St Paul’s before a good win at Berkhamsted in the second round. Folllowing that quarter final against Bromsgrove, they then headed to St John’s Leatherhead for a pulsating semi final last week.
It was a tight and tense game, but Dulwich showed superb game management, control, and opportunism to end up making the final score a rather comfortable looking 24-8, despite having had to dig very deep at times – a strong sign as they head into a final that will surely be fraught with nervous tension at least at first.
Both sides play with an attacking edge, and have backlines that can devastate even the tightest of defences. On the wide open artificial surface of Allianz Park, that could prove to make for an incredibly exciting game, one to create enough excitement to warm the undoubtedly freezing spectators in the stands.
Whatever happens though, we are sure to see a great spectacle of schoolboy rugby in one of its great showpiece events between two outstanding teams. It looks as though it really could go either way, which bodes for an afternoon of great excitement.
Whichever side wins, the one guarantee is that for the fourth year in a row we will have a brand new winner of the Champions Trophy, no side has ever gone back to back. If ever there was a stat to show just how tough a competition this is, perhaps that is it.
Champions Trophy Final: Blundell’s v Dulwich College – Wednesday 6th December – 14.15 kick off (Live on Premier Sports TV Sky 428 HD Sky 462 SD, also live on YouTube, Facebook Live, and England Rugby)
Facts & Figures:
Semi Final: 27-5 Kingswood
Quarter Final: 16-3 Stowe
2nd Round: 31-7 Epsom College
1st Round: 18-7 Sherborne
Season Record: Played 11, Won 10, Lost 1
Head Coach: Simon Johnson
Captain: Sam Maunder
Previous Record: 2016 QFs, 2015 SFs, 2014 2nd Round (All defeats to Epsom!)
Notable former players: Jack Maunder (Exeter Chiefs & England), Matt Kvesic (Exeter Chiefs & England).
Semi Final: 24-8 St John’s, Leatherhead
Quarter Final: 37-19 Bromsgrove
2nd Round: 33-17 Berkhamsted
1st Round: 43-12 St Paul’s
Season Record: Played 12, Won 8, Lost 4 (Not including St Joseph’s Festival, where Dulwich were effectively 3rd/4th)
Head Coach: James Hanks
Captain: Oscar Gleave
Previous Record: Tournament debut. U18 Schools Cup winners, 2012, 2013, 2014.
Notable former players: Nick Easter (ex England), David Flatman (ex England), Andrew Sheridan (ex England), Beno Obano (Bath), Tom O’Flaherty (Exeter Chiefs), Josh Ibuanokpe (Harlequins), Tim Swiel (Harlequins).
15 Gregory Kitson, 14 Jake LeGassick, 13 Samuel Kennaugh, 12 Barry Karea, 11 Oscar Kolowski, 10 Thomas Crowe, 9 Sam Maunder (c), 1 Joshua Oliphant-Thompson, 2 Oliver Clough, 3 Henry Dare, 4 Mack Butterfield, 5 Oliver Kilbride, 6 Jack Klinkenberg, 7 Luke Simpson, 8 George Bush.
Replacements: 16 Harvey Wilder, 17 George Stubbs, 18 Samuel Dodd, 19 Max Baxter, 20 Will Kennaugh, 21 William Heroys.
15 Max Bliss, 14 Femi Sofolarin, 13 Oscar Gleave (c), 12 Matthew O’Flaherty, 11 Louis Ferrari, 10 Sunni Jardine, 9 Mikel Davies, 1 Tyreece Asamoah, 2 Louis Wright, 3 Thomas Brearley, 4 Enzo Croy, 5 Noah Cooper, 6 Jack Ramsay, 7 Oludara Odunlamni, 8 Haydn Oakley.
Replacements: 16 Charlie Depel, 17 George Duggan, 18 Ziyad Elkhawad, 19 Tom Wade, 20 Luke Castenskiold, 21 Lucas Wilson, 22 Alex Cahill.
The AASE Final between Gosforth Academy and Hartpury College will take place at Allianz Park following the conclusion of the Champions trophy (16.00 ko) and will also be shown on live TV (Freesports TV, Sky 424, and BT, Freeview, Freesat and TalkTalk channel 95) as well as on YouTube, Facebook Live, and England Rugby.
For previews of the other midweek schools rugby, please follow these links: