School 7s: Unstoppable Cranleigh seal Hampton School Founders’ Day 7s again | Roundup

The best was saved until last at the Hampton Founders Sevens as the final saw a close game of high quality, Cranleigh School retaining the main Trophy with a 19-12 win over Millfield School, with hosts Hampton School taking the Plate final after Epsom College had equalised to force extra time.


The Hampton 7s tournament provides an excellent and well organised curtain raiser to the March major schools sevens competitions in the South-East, with a selection of the top local sides usually joined by some schools from further afield.


This season Ipswich School, finalists two years ago, again made the journey from East Anglia and Millfield returned keen to improve on their 2023 performance. Thankfully the early horizontal rain was passing around kickoff time and the pitch surfaces were in good shape. The format was a simple one, with two groups of five schools, the winners of each going straight to the main final and runners up to the Plate final.


Group 1 saw an early surprise with Millfield taking a two-try lead against St John’s Leatherhead, only to end up as 10-12 losers after an excellent comeback by the Surrey school. With Hampton making a strong start against John Fisher, it looked as if there might be a repeat of the 2023 final with the hosts facing Cranleigh, but Millfield began to show the style of play that one has come to associate with the Somerset school to dominate against Hampton recording a decisive 33-0 score and a 47-7 win over John Fisher made them favourites to reach the main final. With Fisher bouncing back to edge St John’s 12-5, the hosts ended up level with Millfield on three wins but could not match their impressive points difference despite a 28-0 win over Hurstpierpoint College.


In Group 2 it soon became apparent that the outcome would be determined from a three-way struggle between defending champions and perennial finalists Cranleigh (winners against Gordon’s School in the opening game and consolidating their position with a win over Epsom), Ipswich (winners over St Benedict’s School in a high scoring game) and Epsom. The Suffolk school established an early lead against Epsom and, although they were unable to regather a fly hack to the Epsom line before the interval, they were threatening to score early in the second half but lost possession and Epsom went the length of the pitch to score and start a shift in momentum. Although Ipswich scored on the final play they ended up on the wrong end of a 17-12 scoreline and a defeat to Cranleigh in their last game meant that Epsom progressed to the Plate final.


Daylight was fading fast under the leaden skies as the two finals kicked off on adjacent pitches. The Plate final was a close game, with Epsom trailing mid way through the second half before equalising to force extra time. Both sides had scoring opportunities but it was the home side that created space on the left and they just beat the cover defence to crash over in the corner.


Meanwhile on the main pitch the crowd was treated to the finest exhibition of 7s Rugby of the day. Cranleigh, multiple winners at Rosslyn Park in recent years have a rightly enviable reputation in 7s and they did not disappoint, showing excellent form both with and without the ball and scoring two early converted ties. Although Millfield reduced the deficit with an unconverted try, Cranleigh were able to score again and reach the interval with a 19-5 lead.


The Somerset school were able to enjoy a greater share of possession after half-time but excellent defence kept them out until the closing minutes when they were able to reduce the deficit to a single score. With Millfield conceding possession through an infringement at the restart and the final play indicated, Cranleigh gave their supporters a few moments of anxiety as they were penalised while trying to get the ball off the field, giving Millfield a final opportunity on the 22, but the defence again came up trumps, forcing a penalty and this time the ball was gleefully kicked to touch.


Hampton School Founders’ Day 7s Champions: Cranleigh


Plate Champions: Hampton


By Peter Crawshaw


Cup Final: Cranleigh 19-12 Millfield


Plate Final: Hampton 22-17 Epsom College


Final Group Standings:


PosGroup 1Group 2
2HamptonEpsom College
3St John’s, LeatherheadIpswich
4John FisherGordon’s
5Hurstpierpoint CollegeSt Benedict’s
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