On Friday we asked you to submit the names, positions, and schools of the standout players from the 2019/20 schools rugby season as we look to build the Schools Rugby 2019/20 Dream Team.
You have responded in your droves, on Friday we spoke of picking a North side and South side and hinted wistfully at the idea of more if there were enough submissions. Well, there were more than enough – we have selected four sides, North, Midlands, South East, and South West, plus an additional AASE League Dream Team.
We could have selected even more; a look through the list of those that are not in the teams is striking for the sheer quality of it, indeed combine those left out and you’d have a side that might well beat these four regional sides.
Even picking these regional sides was a task of hellish difficulty. How, for instance, do you choose between Ben Muncaster and Jack Forsythe at 8 in the Midlands, or Jamie Benson, Tom Lynagh, Connor Slevin, and Monty Bradbury at 10 in the South East, indeed those two positions were outrageously competitive across the board, so too prop, while in each region certain positions were simply stacked with options.
Nevertheless we have whittled it down, to the best of our abilities, though there is the occasional fudge, Rugby’s Emeka Ilione is shunted forward to the second row in the Midlands, for instance, due to the extreme competition in the back row.
Now that you have the four regional teams, it is down to you our readers to select the Schools Rugby 2019/20 Dream Team – below are the four teams plus a little about who is in them and why, before the voting begins at the bottom of the page!
Schools Rugby 2019/20 Regional Dream Teams:
15 Elliot Gourlay (Kirkham Grammar), 14 Oliver Melville (Sedbergh), 13 Tom Lanni (Sedbergh), 12 Finn Usher (Barnard Castle), 11 Willem Johnson (Woodhouse Grove), 10 James Blackett (RGS Newcastle), 9 Murray Redpath (Sedbergh), 1 Mark Dormer (RGS Newcastle), 2 Lawrence Mason (Sedbergh), 3 Phil Brantingham (RGS Newcastle), 4 Ewan Murphy (Lymm High School), 5 Carwyn Tuipulotu (Sedbergh), 6 Olly Tomalin (St Peter’s, York), 7 Guy Pepper (Barnard Castle), 8 Ollie Leatherbarrow (Kirkham Grammar).
A really tricky set of selections in the North, with a number of real stars of the season missing out, among them a top class front row of the Kirkham pair Ethan Caine and Corey Bowker and Woodhouse Grove’s New Hawker. RGS Newcastle’s props have deeply impressed us though as has the work of Sedbergh’s Mason at hooker. His schoolmate Tuipulotu felt like a shoo-in, the only question was where. In the end we opted for the second row, where he has played most of his school rugby, alongside Lymm’s Murphy. The back row, as for all sections, was ridiculously competitive, RGS Newcastle’s Toby Peach, any of the Sedbergh trio, Hymers’ Ben Copley and Durham’s Owen Vassallo were all close too. Scrum half saw Sedbergh’s James Naylor continue his rivalry with Murray Redpath but the likes of Dan Baines and Tom Parkin were also close. At 10 Gourlay could have been considered there too as well as 15, as could Kirkham teammate Aaron Pope or Sedbegh’s Louis Johnson, among others. Ewan Greenlaw and Harry Clark were among those unlucky in the centres, while competition in the back 3 was rife, Cameron Metcalfe and Fraser Jones both almost made it, among many others.
15 Ollie Smith (Denstone College), 14 Tom Litchfield (Samuel Whitbread), 13 Seb Atkinson (Bromsgrove), 12 Ethan Grayson (Northampton School for Boys), 11 Dani Long-Martinez (Norwich), 10 Fin Smith (Warwick), 9 Ollie Wynn (Bromsgrove), 1 Seb Smith (Stamford), 2 Dan Eckersley (Bloxham), 3 Jack Rowntree (Leicester Grammar), 4 Phil Tandoh (Stamford), 5 Emeka Ilione (Rugby), 6 Kofi Cripps (Rugby), 7 Kit Smith (Oakham), 8 Ben Muncaster (Rugby).
The Midlands had some areas that were almost impossible to pick in, back row most notably. Five are shoe-horned into this side, Rugby’s trio of Ben Muncaster, Kofi Cripps and Emeka Ilione, with Ilione shifted to the second row, Oakham Kit Smith, and Bloxham’s Dan Eckersley, who is selected in his club position of hooker. That still leaves out sublime talents like Warwick’s Jack Forsythe, injury robbing him of some game time this year. Alongside Ilione in the second row is Stamford talent Phil Tandoh, and his school mate Seb Smith gets the nod at loosehead with Jack Rowntree of Leicester Grammar at tight. The Midlands front row options to miss out are stunning talents, too. Not least Rugby School pair Phillip Sharkey and Rob Hardwick. In the backline things were no easier, Warwick’s Fin Smith gets the nod but that meant no space for Abingdon’s Charlie Atkinson, fortunately Abingdon being in the South West for the Schools Cup allowed us space there for him. Smith is joined by all star talents in Ollie Wyn, Ethan Grayson, and Seb Atkinson, but that means the guys such as Rugby’s Jack Hughes and Warwick’s Harry Spencer just missed out. It was a similar story in the back three, where Ollie Smith, Tom Lichfield, and Dani Long-Martinez got the nods.
15 Henry Arundel (Harrow), 14 Cassius Cleaves (Wellington College), 13 Olly Hartley (Whitgift), 12 Oscar Beard (Cranleigh), 11 Kitan Ojo (Epsom College), 10 Jamie Benson (Hampton), 9 Sam Bryan (Felsted), 1 Theo Bevacqua (Eastbourne College), 2 Joe Vajner (Whitgift), 3 Fin Baxter (Wellington College), 4 Ollie Corbett (Cranleigh), 5 Alex Wardell (Felsted), 6 Lucas Brooke (Wellington College), 7 Makeen Alikhan (Epsom College), 8 Toby Knight (Berkhamsted).
On the wing in the South East were, for us, two shoo-in flyers, Cassius Cleaves and Kitan Ojo. That, however meant serious competition for the last remaining spot in the back 3, with Ben Fitzgerald, Finn Brown, and Hector Elrington among those deeply unlucky, Henry Arundel just took the spot. Oscar Beard was a dead cert in the centres, the only question was alongside whom and Olly Hartley’s late season form earned him the nod there ahead of Bryn Bradley of Epsom, among others. At fly half Monty Bradbury can consider himself deeply unlucky, Jamie Benson’s ability to shine even with the same all-star cast around him perhaps just swaying things, that’s before we even get into the likes of Tom Lynagh and Connor Slevin, while Sam Bryan was the standout candidate at 9. The front row in the South East is outstanding, Wales U20 cap Theo Bevacqua, England U18 captain Fin Baxter, and the year’s standout hooker, Whitgift’s Joe Vajner. But that means that Felsted’s Tristan Smith and Haileybury’s Ehimen Osebor, incredibly, miss out, such is the strength in the South East’s front row. For us Olly Corbett and Alex Wardell headed a strong field in the second row, Wardell’s schoolmate Obinna Nkwocha among the chasing pack. The back row was, typically, near impossible to narrow down. In a stunning Wellington College team Lucas Brooke was named player of the year and gets the nod at 6, but schoolmate Marcus Rhodes is among those seriously unlucky to miss out, similarly Will Trenholm, Gabriel Seriki, and Nic Neal, to name just a few, with Makeen Alikhan and Toby Knight both utterly standout this year at 7 and 8.
15 Dan John (Millfield), 14 Harry Ascherl (Clifton College), 13 Will Joseph (Millfield), 12 Louis Hillman-Cooper (Cheltenham College), 11 Ollie Dawkins (RGS High Wycombe), 10 Charlie Atkinson (Abingdon), 9 Tom Carr-Smith (Sherborne), 1 Nathanael Fagerson (Sherborne), 2 Nathan Karea (Blundell’s), 3 James Coombs (Abingdon), 4 Freddie Thomas (Dean Thomas), 5 Ewan Richards (Millfield), 6 Harry Taylor (Clifton College), 7 Tom Cowan (Millfield), 8 Lorcan McLoughlin (Sherborne).
As mentioned, Charlie Atkinson finds his way into the South West side despite competition from like likes of Tom Quinlan and TJ Wilstead among others. Sherborne’s Tom Carr-Smith was a standout and popular option at 9 while in the centres Will Joseph and Louis Hillman-Cooper felt likes absolute certainties, despite the competition, such is their sheer quality. The South West also saw competition from two of the standout full backs this year, Dan John and Harry Ascherl, so Ascherl does a turn on the wing, alongside RGS High Wycombe’s Ollie Dawkins, RGS, like Abingdon, play in the South West in the Schools Cup. Up front Nathanael Fagerson’s exploits for Sherborne get him the nod at loosehead, with Abingdon’s James Coombs at tight. Nathan Karea was the standout candidate at hooker. The back row and second row was, like in all regions, fiercely competitive. Freddie Thomas has been outstanding at 8 but the Dean Close an does a shift in the second row alongside Ewan Richards as the back row quality simply demanded more representation, Harry Taylor and Tom Cowan earning the nods on the flanks wit Sherborne’s Lorcan McLoughlin impressing us at 8.
School Rugby 2019/20 Dream Team Vote
So, those are your four regional sides (the AASE side is set), as you can see the competition was fierce and some stunning players of international caliber have missed out. All you have to do is to vote for the player from those options that you want to see in the Schools Rugby 2019/20 Dream Team – so let’s spread the word and get voting!
AASE League 2019/20 Dream Team
Such was the incredible amount of submissions that we received for the Schools Rugby 2019/20 Dream Team, we decided to select a separate AASE Dream Team, which you can see here!
15 Chay Mullins (SGS Filton College), 14 Deago Bailey (SGS Filton College), 13 Kian Gentry (Exeter College), 12 Joe Bedlow (Myerscough College), 11 Matty Ward (Gosforth Academy), 10 Orlando Bailey (Beechen Cliff), 9 Sam Edwards (Brooksby Melton College), 1 Tarek Haffar (St Paul’s Catholic College), 2 John Stewart (Beechen Cliff), 3 Joe Keohane (St Paul’s Catholic College), 4 Arthur Clark (Hartpury College), 5 Charlie Rice (SGS Filton College), 6 Joe Elsworth (Exeter College), 7 Ethan Staddon (Beechen Cliff), 8 Ben Grubb (Exeter College).
16 Archie Vanes (Brooksby Melton College), 17 Andrew Turner (SGS Filton College), 18 Harry Wilkinson (Exeter College), 19 Charlie Rice (SGS Filton College), 20 Greg Fisilau (City of Oxford College), 21 Rory Morgan (St Paul’s Catholic College), 22 Morgan Adderley-Jones (Hartpury College), 23 Jake Sterland (Brooksby Melton College).