Today would have been the U18 and U15 Schools Cup and Vase finals at Twickenham Stadium, one of the great days on the school sports calendar.
Perhaps at some point down the line they may get to be played, though with each passing press conference the chances of that seem ever slimmer, although never underestimate the will of the organisers, the schools, the staff, the players, and even ourselves to find a way if it’s possible.
Who knows, perhaps even at U18 level (or U19 as it would be then) a game as old boys in the build up to this year’s Varisty Match. That could be fun.
Whatever the end point though, for now we just feel desperately sorry for the eight teams that would have been running out at Twickenham today. To win at Twickenham is glorious and an incredible end to the season for all, but the real achievement is in being there at all, earning the chance to play at the grand old stadium an occasion and an experience that every single player will remember for the rest of their lives.
It is why it is such a shame that, despite it being utterly the right decision, this year’s finals will not be happening any time soon.
We want to focus here on the U18 Cup though for one simple reason, schools rugby history was going to be made.
Were Whitgift to win they would have become the only side ever to join that almighty Colston’s side as double back to back winners. For Warwick it was an historic fourth final in a row, only that Colston’s side and the Dulwich College side of the early to mid part of the last decade have done so.
The real story though was that whichever side won, it would have been their fourth title. Whichever side won, they would have been just the second side in Schools Cup history to have done so. We were set for one of the great schools rugby occasions, and not just of the season as in most years, but of all time. We were going to see history being made, no matter what.
What we can say now though, whether this game is played or not, in the very fact that both sides can create schools rugby history with victory, both deserve to be celebrated now.
Sure, ultimately victory decides such things. Perhaps if Manchester United had beaten Barcelona in the 2009 and 2011 Champions League finals then that team would be regarded as up there with the greatest of all time, but they didn’t, and Barcelona are.
It does not diminish the achievement in having managed to get to a position in which the historic is possible though, and that is exactly what these two have done.
Already these two schools are school rugby greats, schools cup legends. That much should be clear to all.
In their respective semi final victories we saw examples of just that, that ability that sides that have been there and done it all before have to remain calm and to find a way over the line even when all looks lost.
In Whitgift coming from behind to beat Sherborne with that last gasp Ben Fitzgerald penalty Whitgift showed it. They could have lost, perhaps even should have lost, but they found a way. That is the difference, and it is one of the most significant abilities in sport, at all levels, to be able simply to find a way to get it done.
We saw it from Warwick, too. Like Whitgift they were behind against Northampton School for Boys, and could so easily have been down and out but for a series of key plays in the dying moments. First stopping a NSB maul on their own line, then scoring off one of their own on NSB’s line a few minutes later to take the lead, and then killing the game off with a score in the final play. From down and out to delirious celebrations.
So yes, we don’t have a final today, and we have no idea when or if we will have one at all, but we still have two teams that have achieved the spectacular in this tournament, who have already made schools rugby history and elevated themselves to legendary status in this competition.
The game may not be on but these two, and the other six teams that were due to run out at Twickenham today, still deserve celebration.
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