We continue our School Team of the Decade series today with a look at the next two sides on our shortlist, Bromsgrove and Cranleigh.
The series works from the 2009/10 season to the 2018/19 season in England, which ought to mean avoiding ranking too many current school players. It means that titles such as the 2019 St Joseph’s Festival, Champions Trophy, and Daily Mail Trophy miss out as a factor in consideration, while equivalents in 2009 do merit consideration.
We will be looking at 20 teams for the shortlist, and it is about performance over the decade rather than in any one year. From the 20 sides we will then be asking you to pick your School Team of the Decade 2010-2019.
In Part 1 we looked at Bedford and Brighton College, and you can read that article below, today we look at Bromsgrove and Cranleigh two sides that claimed some of the biggest prizes in school rugby over the decade.
Major Honours: Schools Cup 2016 and 2015
The obvious place to start with Bromsgrove is that midpoint in the decade where they won back to back U18 Schools Cup titles in 2015 and 2016, deposing the three-peat winners Dulwich College in the 2015 final before going on to back it up against QEGS Wakefield the following year, having beaten old rivals Warwick in the semi finals.
Those two teams were truly fantastic, but Bromsgrove have been playing at the top end of the school game for most of the decade, too. In 2019 they lifted the Rosslyn Park Vase, and while that might not be the Open it was still an impressive title in the face of some stiff competition.
Through the regular season in each year they have generally excelled, indeed 2010/11 was their only season that was not a winning one. From there they simply built and built to a climax in 2014/15 and 2015/16, where they went unbeaten, and since then they have consistently been one of the top sides in the country, claiming victories against some of the biggest names in school rugby. Some fantastic players have come through their ranks in that time, too, not least hookers Henry Walker and Beck Cutting, second row Justin Clegg, and one of the fastest rising stars in English rugby, centre Oli Lawrence. It is a decade that has seen Bromsgrove become one of the most consistently good sides on the circuit.
Major Honours: Rosslyn Park 7s 2017 and 2016, St Joseph’s Festival 2016
The high water mark in the decade for Cranleigh was undoubtedly back to back Rosslyn Park 7s titles in 2016 and 2017, where they simply it the tournament up with their play and their determination. These were no fluke wins either, they had been building up to both through the 15s and the 7s seasons with some notable victories in key tournaments. The 2016/17 season was arguably the absolute pinnacle, when they won the St Joseph’s Festival title in October ahead of Brighton College, and then beat the same side in the Rosslyn Park 7s final in March.
They backed those triumphs up with an unbeaten season the following year, 2017/18, and almost went on to make it three Rosslyn Park 7s titles in a row as they charged to the final only to just fall to a Cameron Redpath inspired Sedbergh side.
Through the decade they have had some outstanding players, most recently the likes of Oscar Beard and Will Trenholm, but also players such as Charlie Piper, Hugh Tizard, Sam Arnold, Dino Lamb-Cona, Henry Taylor, Hayden Hyde, Harry Barlow, and Harry Elkington, among others. On the field the next decade looks equally promising, in the 2019/20 season they won the Daily Mail Trophy in dramatic fashion as it all went down to the final weekend and they were all set for a strong 7s season after an impressive showing at the Hampton 7s before Covid struck. It has been an epic decade for the Surrey school.