Thursday sees the Continental Tyres Schools Cup Finals take place at Twickenham Stadium with the U18 and U15 Cup and Vase finals taking place.
Tube strikes there may be, but the show must go on and with almost literally no other possible date in the calendar it’s a case of keep calm and carry on for the travelling supporters, of which there are expected to be many thousands.
Little wonder; both the U18 and U15 Continental Schools Cup Finals are head to head between sides that are undefeated in the regular season. At U18 level Oakham take on Trinity, the closest Oakham have come to defeat is a draw with local rivals Stamford, while Trinity, the reigning champions, have only tasted it in short format or against international opposition.
Over in the U15s KCS Wimbledon and Northampton School for Boys have sailed through the season, indeed, in perhaps the ideal situation, this final looks likely to be the sternest test that either has faced this season.
The Vase looks just as good, Old Swinford Hospital have achieved the remarkable, with a team in both the U18 and the U15 final. Up against them in the U18 final are one of only two other teams to have achieved that feat in the Vase, Samuel Whitbread Academy, who won both the U18 and U15 Vase in 2019. The only other side to reach both finals in the same year are Felsted, in 2013, where they fell on the wrong side of the scoreboard in both games.
In the U15 competition Old Swinford Hospital’s opponents are Chislehurst & Sidcup Grammar School, playing in their school’s first ever national fifteen-a-side final.
Continental Tyres Schools Cup Finals Fixtures:
U18 Cup Final
Oakham v Trinity (4pm)
Round 1: 64-7 v Uppingham
Round 2: 33-7 v Warwick
Round 3: 27-24 v Stowe (Watch again here)
QF: 39-0 at RGS Newcastle
SF: 38-19 v Finborough (Watch again here)
Round 1: 55-5 v Dulwich College
Round 2: 40-15 at Whitgift
Round 3: 24-22 at The Judd
QF: 18-15 at Harrow (Watch again here)
SF: 21-10 v Blundell’s
A game for the ages, the reigning champions against the 2002 and 2003 champions. Two unbeaten sides in the regular season, and two teams with some truly outstanding players and a wonderful team ethic binding it all together. History is on Trinity’s side, the last time a side did not claim at least back to back titles were Truro College way back in 2009 – the only exception being Whitgift, who won in 2019 and shared the title in 2020 with Warwick due to Covid forcing cancellation of the final. Can Oakham buck that trend?
They have previous in stopping a side from going back to back. In 2002 Campion were the reigning champions but Oakham beat them 28-23 in that final to claim the first of their own back to back titles. However against Whitgift in 2011 they could not stop the trend, going down 45-24 to the reigning champions. Will Trinity take inspiration from their local rivals?
In truth though, history bears no relevance here – legendary as these two teams may have become in this competition. This is all about the here and now and two absolutely magnificent sides. Victory for Trinity would give them one of the great seasons in recent memory, of any school, for Oakham it would be a stunning achievement. A side that quietly got about their business early in the season and grew bigger and received greater recognition with each passing week to the point where they are no in line to be crowned one of the very best of the season. A huge game, and two huge sides.
U18 Vase Final
Old Swinford Hospital v Samuel Whitbread Academy (2.15pm)
Old Swinford Hospital
Round 1: Walkover (Tewkesbury)
Round 2: Walkover (King’s Gloucester)
Round 3: 45-19 v The Crypt
Round 4: 43-12 v Bristol Grammar
Round 5: 62-18 v Ivybridge Community College
QF: 47-22 at Claires Court
SF: 40-19 v Sutton Valence
Samuel Whitbread Academy
Round 1: Walkover (Hitchin)
Round 2: 43-0 v Roundwood Park
Round 3: 10-5 v The Perse
Round 4: 28-26 at St Albans
Round 5: 17-0 v Richard Hale
QF: 36-22 v Durham
SF: 30-25 v St Ambrose College
As mentioned, Samuel Whitbread Academy won this title in 2019 as part of an historic U18 and U15 Vase double. Now Old Swinford Hospital look to emulate them, the 2012 U18 Cup final and were a converted score away from stalling the Dulwich College dynasty of the early 2010s before it had truly begun.
Now the two meet in what promises to be one of the great Vase finals, certainly one of the highest qualities. Both of these teams are having memorable years and a run out at Twickenham will only add to that, but both will want that final prize at the end of the line and what a pair of sides it is two be gunning for it. A magnificent advert for schools rugby, no matter the outcome.
U15 Cup Final
KCS Wimbledon v Northampton School for Boys (12.30pm)
Round 1: Walkover (St Paul’s)
Round 2: 43-7 v St Benedict’s
Round 3: 26-5 at Harrow
Round 4: 22-17 v Epsom College
QF: 45-5 v Canford
SF: 24-7 v Clifton College
Northampton School for Boys
Round 1: 35-0 at Bedford
Round 2: 29-12 at Bloxham
Round 3 29-10 v Rugby
Round 4: 55-7 v Haileybury
QF: 27-12 at King’s Macclesfield
SF 33-7 v Warwick
Northampton School for Boys are starting to know Twickenham Stadium like the back of their hands, an U18 Cup final in 2013, an U18 Vase title in 2016, a shared U15 Vase title in 2020, and a defeat in the 2019 U15 Cup final to Wellington College in 2019. How the East Midlands side would love to go that one step further in this U15 competition on Thursday lunchtime.
Up against them are relative novices in these finals, it’s a first Schools Cup appearance at Twickenham for KCS Wimbledon, though their U18s did reach the Plate final at StoneX last year. Much like in the U18 Cup final though, history is not really relevant here, this is about two outstanding teams going head to head, two unbeaten sides with genuine reason to be able to claim to be the best in the land at their age going head to head in the ultimate decider on the grandest of stages. It is going to be magnificent to watch. Sometimes finals can feel like they might not necessarily be the best against the best, there’s certainly ever reason to believe that this one will be.
U15 Vase Final
Chislehurst & Sidcup Grammar v Old Swinford Hospital (11am)
Chislehurst & Sidcup
Round 1: Walkover (Bexley Grammar)
Round 2: 69-7 at Beth’s Grammar
Round 3: 33-7 at Gravesend Grammar
Round 4: 33-17 at Felsted
Round 5: 30-0 v Langley Park
QF: 20-12 v The Oratory
SF: 43-12 v Thomas Hardye
Old Swinford Hospital
Round 1: 43-0 at KES Camp Hill
Round 2: 40-7 at KES Birmingham
Round 3: 71-0 at Bishop Vesey’s Grammar
Round 4: 33-22 v Kenilworth
Round 5 53-14 v Cotswold
QF: 15-14 v Weaverham High
SF: 22-17 v Dame Allan’s
At 11am on Thursday the Old Swinford Hospital Vase double campaign kicks off as they go head to head with Chislehurst & Sidcup Grammar, playing in their first ever National Schools Final. Both sides will be feeling good ahead of this one after some blistering performances through the rounds. Old Swinford sailed through early on but came through a test against Kenilworth in Round 4 and then really tough quarter finals and semi finals. They can stand up when the going gets tough. So too can Chislehurst & Sidcup, showing their determination in their quarter final against The Oratory, but by and large they have been in a class of their own in their games in this competition so far – Thursday will be a step up though, and should be a fantastic occasion for it.