We start the week with a look at our next two teams on our shortlist for School Team of the Decade, two sides that between them have won it all, Warwick and Wellington College.
The join the 16 previous sides listed on the shortlist that will eventually become 20, Bedford, Brighton College, Bromsgrove, Cranleigh, Dulwich College, Epsom College, Hampton, John Fisher, Kirkham Grammar, Millfield, QEGS Wakefield, RGS High Wycombe, RGS Newcastle, Sedbergh, St Joseph’s College, and Tonbridge, and you can see our articles highlighting those sides below.
Once the shortlist is complete, it’ll be over to you to vote for your top English school 1st XV of the last decade, the School Team of the Decade. To keep it aligned to seasons, September-December 2019 is not included as that was part of the 2019/20 season, but the same period in 2009 is included as it was a part of the 2009/10 season.
Major Honours: Schools Cup 2018 & 2017
When conversations about the 2010 decade in schools rugby go on, it is impossible not to mention Warwick. They have twice won the U18 Schools Cup (and have been outstanding in the U15s, too) to add to a title in 2007, they have also reached two finals and two semi finals, over the 10 years they have eight times either reached the final or been knocked out by an eventual finalist or winner, it is an astonishing track record.
The decade start off well with a strong regular season and a run to the Cup quarter finals, where a close game against Stowe was their undoing. A year later they were even better, losing just four games all season, a Cup regional final to Old Swinford Hospital, and three regular season games to sides of outstanding quality, Millfield, Sedbergh, and eventual Cup finalists Oakham. That was the last year that they would be knocked out of the Cup by another other than a finalist, they had a strong 11/12 season a were knocked out by Old Swinford Hospital, they year after they had a really strong regular season and reached the Cup semis. 2013/14 was an unusual season as it included 4 draws but it also took them to Twickenham, they lost the final to Dulwich College, who were completing three in a row, but Warwick were starting to build a dynasty of their own.
The Dulwich dominance of the Cup was broken in 2015 by Bromsgrove, and it was they that knocked Warwick out, but Warwick were knocking on the door. The following year it was another semi final against one of their great rivals of the era, QEGS Wakefield, but in 2016/17 they finally completed the dream as they won the Schools Cup in style against Bishop Wordsworth’s. They next year they were back for more, once again meeting QEGS and this time in a final, Warwick’s experience told as they made it back to back titles in fine fashion
As the decade closed there was time for one more trip to HQ, against the side that opened the decade dominating the Cup, Whitgift. It had been a strong year for both but in the end three in a row was just out of reach for Warwick. Unsurprisingly, given their performances through the decade, some outstanding players have passed through their ranks in the last few years, among them Jamie Shillcock, Nick David, Ben Howard, Tom Dodd, Nick Rigby, and some more recent stars such as Fin Smith, Harry Spencer, and Jack Forsythe. It has been a decade to remember for the men in blue and white.
Major Honours: Champions Trophy 2018, Daily Mail Trophy 2016, 2015, & 2014 (also 2010), Rosslyn Park 7s Cup 2015, Rosslyn Park 7s Festival 2013, 2012, & 2011.
Wellington College have been outstanding from start to finish over the last ten years, and along the way they have produced some of the most outstanding sides in schools rugby history, whilst competing in some of the most epic rivalries of the decade against Millfield in the middle of the decade and Sedbergh in the latter period of it.
It all began in 2009/10 with a ‘weaker’ season, weak in the sense of reaching the Rosslyn Park 7s Festival final and only losing to Tonbridge, Bedford, Sedbergh, and Whitgift all season. That is how good their decade has been. The following year they went into hyperdrive, winning what would become the Daily Mail Trophy, adding the Rosslyn Part 7s Festival and a Surrey 7s final, all while only losing one fifteen-a-side game all season, to Schools Cup champions, Whitgift. The following year a tough fixture list bit with a few defeats, yet still they made it back to back Rosslyn Park Festival titles, and they would make that three in a row in 2012/13, a season in which only Millfield and Marlborough got the better of them.
They following year saw a shake up at Rosslyn Park and Wellington College moved over to the Cup, where they reached the semi finals and a defeat in one of the great 7s contests against Millfield. It was another strong fifteen-a-side season, but 2014/15 was even better as they claimed the Daily Mail Trophy and only lost once all season, an epic 37-34 contest against Sedbergh. They were, if anything, even better on the 7s field where a Surrey 7s and Rosslyn Park 7s Cup title were theirs. In 2015/16 they backed up their Daily Mail Trophy title, and the following year they made it 3 in a row with an epic season in which the only defeat was by a single point to Whitgift. By 2017/18 an epic rivalry with Sedbergh was peaking at the Cumbrians pipped the Daily Mail Trophy title from Wellington in a season where the Berkshiremen were beset by injury. 2018/19 saw Wellington College enter a 1st XV into the Champions Trophy for the first time and they came away with the goods with some truly outstanding performances, managing their way through the added fixture list with aplomb too, with only Sedbergh, Millfield, and Harrow getting the better of them outside of that campaign as they completed a decade for the ages.
They show no signs of slowing down, too. In 2019/20 they made it back to back Champions Trophy titles and added a St Joseph’s Festival title for good measure in their first attempt in over a decade. Through the 2010s some magnificent players have passed through their ranks, among them Sam Spink, Josh Basham, Ben Loader, Sam Aspland-Robinson, Yom Parton, Rory McMichael, Will Wilson< Dylan Moss, Izaiha Moore-Aiono, Rory Brand, Matt Williams, Isaac Curtis-Harris, Lucas, Brooke, Michael Rhodes, and Fin Baxter, and the list goes on and on and on. A remarkable decade from a remarkable school.