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Millfield and Newman College win on an epic final day

22 Mar 2024

Millfield claimed the U18 Boys Cup at the Howden Rosslyn Park National Schools 7s for the first time in a decade after a sensational performance to topple the most dominant side in recent schools rugby history Harrow, while Newman College made it back to back titles.

It completed the most sensational week of rugby at the Howden Rosslyn Park National Schools 7s, which has seen 11 different competitions taking place over a brilliant five days of rugby from U11s right through to those flagship U18s competitions.

The action has been magnificent, as it is each and every year, and in the end was quite simply breath-taking as we saw two finals performances of the highest order.

Boys U18 Cup

The Boys U18 Cup was extraordinary from start to finish, culminating in a final to salivate over. The best fifteen-a-side team this season, the all-conquering Harrow, crowned Continental Tyres U18 Schools Cup champions just a week ago, against the best seven-a-side team this season, Millfield, who just a fortnight ago claimed the Edwin Doran Surrey Schools Senior 7s.

It was a heavyweight match-up of the highest level. The reigning champions against this tournament’s most storied team. History everywhere you looked, schools rugby history unfolding in front of every onlooker’s eyes.

It was Millfield ultimately that made the history a magnificent final performance to win 28-17, but it was about so much more than that, for this tournament was about so much more than just the final.

That will come later, first though this incredible Harrow side deserves outrageous credit. As a 1st XV/1st VII this final was their first defeat of the season. Their achievement in simply arriving at this final was quite simply outstanding. Their humility in doing so, and afterwards in defeat, almost surpassing their achievements. They are and have been a sensation and are one of the greatest school teams of all time.

To the victors the spoils though, and this Millfield side deserve every last bit of the spoils. They had to dig deeper, possibly, than any side has ever had to before to win this tournament. It was a victory for guts as much as for skill, and they showed a stupendous amount of skill.

The came through Day 1 by the skin of their death having lost to Hampton, sending them into a Day 2 Pool with Kirkham Grammar School, Wellington College, and Sedbergh. There is no such thing as an easy Day 2 Pool at the Howden Rosslyn Park National Schools 7s, but there is definitely such a thing as a brutal one and that was exactly the pool they were faced with – Thursday night and Friday morning was awash with conversation about the task at hand.

It proved every bit as tough as expected. 21-7 down to Kirkham in their opener, Millfield found a way to turn it around for a 26-21 victory. Then against Sedbergh, in the tightest of games, they found themselves down to 5 men and camped on their own line for two minutes. Somehow, some way, they held out, and from there the belief was seeping through their veins.

They performed superbly against Wellington College to secure a place in the semi finals, where they faced Bromsgrove, who had topped a pool containing Gordon’s, Radley College, and Whitgift, meanwhile Harrow, who had beaten Dulwich College, Ipswich, and Cranleigh, faced Gordon’s, through to the semis as the best runner up.

Common belief was that whoever came out of that Millfield/Kirkham/Wellington/Sedbergh pool would be too physically spent to compete in the semi finals and final, but try telling Millfield that.

They were flying against Bromsgrove in their semi finals, with a wonderful performance on RE2, while Harrow were superb against Gordon’s as well – indeed Harrow had barely been touched throughout the two days.

Produce your best when it matters most. That’s the mark of some of the greatest teams in any sporting arena, and so it proved in the final for Millfield. They were utterly sensational, producing some huge moments. George Bullivant was a colossus, Owen Erasmus and Ben Morrow fizzing pockets of guile and energy, and Morgan Williams, the Limitless Player of the Tournament who bounced back from a tough day 1 for one of the great Day 2’s of any Howden Rosslyn Park National Schools 7s, epitomising the resilience of this great Millfield side.

They now join the class of 2014 and the likes of Sheedy, Hastings, and Whiteley, the likes of Sir Gareth Edwards too. Legends of the school game, legends of the Howden Rosslyn Park National Schools 7s. Schools rugby giants.

An extraordinary feat to finish the most extraordinary two days of competition.

Over in the Plate Llandovery College and Brighton College contested the final, two sides that could so easily have been in contention for the Cup – last year’s finalists, Brighton College, and the best team in Wales this year, Llandovery.

As expected, it was the most incredibly tight game, but it was the Welsh giants that won out, Llandovery College claiming victory 10-5 to return along the M4 with well deserved silverware.

Girls U18 Cup

Newman College made it back to back titles in the Girls U18 Cup, an extraordinary achievement and done having had to face some true greats of the girls game.

A word too for Peter Symonds’ College, whom they beat 29-5 in the final, for they have been on this historic journey every step of the way having finished as runners up in both finals.

Newman College had to play some epic rugby though, topping a pool that contained Coleg y Cymoedd and Oundle, as well as Canada’s For the Love of the Game, who had lit the field up on Day One.

Their reward was a semi final against the biggest name in Girls school rugby, Hartpury College, who had headed Millfield, Epsom College, and Kingsbridge – Millfield also went through as a best runner up to face Peter Symonds’, who headed Brooskby Melton College, Llandovery College, and Hereford 6th form College.

Peter Symonds’ won a cracker against Millfield, 19-14, but the warning sign that Newman College meant business came in that semi final, beating Hartpury College by a truly outstanding 29-7 margin, and outstanding display.

It gave them incredible confidence heading into the final, and in simply shone through in a performance of outstanding skill and physicality for a stunning 29-5 victory, and a huge shoutout to Cat Moody, the superb Limitless Player of the Tournament.

Back to back Howden Rosslyn Park National Schools 7s champions. Newman College are now a legend.

So too are Exeter College, who made it two trophies for the week having secured the ACE title yesterday, they beat Samuel Whitbread 19-5 in the final to secure the Plate title, a brilliant double achievement.

Junior Schools

The Junior Schools tournament was as ever a joyous event, each team played five games in their pools of six, but only a select few won all five, Woodhouse Grove, Northampton School for Boys, Bryn Celynnog, Ivybridge, Newbridge, West Monmouth, RGS Worcester, Garth Olwg, Gordon’s, Whitgift, Ipswich, Birkenhead, Rougemont, and a brilliant group from Dubai, Emirates Falcons.


Watching the U11s tournament unfold and their joy at meeting England Number 8 Alex Dombrandt, here as a Limitless ambassador, was a scene to light up the tournament. Four teams came out of their pools unbeaten, Donhead, RGS Newcastle, Rhydywaun, and the home side – Rosslyn Park F.C. Under 11s. A brilliant way to sign off the tournament.

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