Today we look at the next two teams on our School Team of the Decade series, two schools that competed for the biggest prizes in English school rugby repeatedly through the decade, always in the mix over the course of the ten years, QEGS Wakefield and RGS High Wycombe.
The series is all about performance across the decade 2009/10 to 2018/19, therefore incorporating September to December 2009 but excluding that period in 2019. The first five parts of the series, links to which are below, looked at Bedford, Brighton College, Bromsgrove, Cranleigh, Dulwich College, Epsom College, Hampton, John Fisher, Kirkham Grammar School, and Millfield. In all there will be 20 on the shortlist, from which you will vote for your School Team of the Decade!
For now, we turn the attention to QEGS Wakefield and RGS High Wycombe, two sides that have had some cracking battles over the years.
Major Honours: None
QEGS Wakefield might not have the major silverware of others on the list but they have consistently been in the mix for those major titles right throughout the decade. Twice they reached the Schools Cup final, in 2016 and 2018, losing to Bromsgrove and their great rival through the decade, Warwick. Indeed that Cup rivalry between themselves and Warwick over the course of the decade has been one of the key storylines in schools rugby throughout the last ten years.
The decade started very strongly for QEGS, reaching the quarter finals of the Schools Cup in 2010 and 2011 and only losing one regular season game in each of those seasons. A couple of fallow years followed but the 2014/15 season was to be the start of a cracking spell for the Yorkshiremen as they reached the St Joseph’s Festival Plate final in October, a feat that they would go on to repeat the following year in what was an epic 2015/16 season. They did not lose a single regular season game, reached that St Joseph’s Festival Plate final, won the Sedbergh 10s Plate, and reached the Schools Cup Final. They were strong again the following year but it was old nemesis Warwick that stopped the Schools Cup run at the quarter finals stage by a mere two points. The following year the two met in the final but again the Midlands side had the edge. It was one of only two defeats all season for QEGS, the 4th time in 9 years that they had lost twice or less all season. It was a season that included silverware, too, as they claimed the St Joseph’s Festival Plate in October.
The key for QEGS Wakefield in making this shortlist has been their consistency throughout the decade, constantly in competition in the big tournaments and producing some fantastic players through the decade as well, including the likes of Joe Gatus and Ben Morris.
RGS High Wycombe
Major Honours: Sedbergh Super 10s 2016
RGS High Wycombe have had some extraordinarily successful years throughout the decades, but this last decade had the potential to be one of the very best had a few results just swung their way. Three times they missed out in the late round of the Schools Cup to the side that would become champions, twice they reached the St Joseph’s Festival only to lose by the most narrow of margins. The fact is though, that in consistently challenging in these competitions they have proven to be one of the top sides of the last decade.
It all began in 2009/10 with a run to the Schools Cup semi finals, where eventual back to back winners Whitgift edged them out. A year on and they were Plate winners at the St Joseph’s Festival as they began to embark on one of the best series of competitions runs of the decade. They lifted the St Joseph’s Festival Plate in 2012 and a year later reached the St Joseph’s Festival Cup final, losing out by a point to a Lewis Ludlam inspired St Joseph’s side in the final. From there they kicked on, reaching the Schools Cup semi finals against a Dulwich College side that would go on to the second best winning streak in Schools Cup history in the final, before then heading for the end of season Sedbergh 10s and reaching the final.
The following year, 2014/15 RGS were back in the Sedbergh 10s final, by now losing finals was beginning to hurt and another followed at the St Joseph’s Festival in October 2015, where they reached the Cup final only to fall to Hampton in a tight one. They had another strong Schools Cup run, facing Bromsgrove in the 2016 quarter finals, but Bromsgrove had a story of their own to tell as they went on to win the Cup for the second year running. Finally though RGS got over the hump and went to Sedbergh to claim the national 10s title, their third final there in a row and finally some silverware to show for their remarkable efforts.
That was the high point, and a deserved one after a seven year stretch of excellence. The end of the decade was a little tougher, but it looks as though RGS High Wycombe will be staying in the big time after a strong 2019/20 season last year. Along the way some magnificent players have come through their ranks over the decade, the likes of Christian Wade, Tommy Allen, Ross Neal, and Ben Harris.