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Sedbergh and Exeter College claim Thursday’s silverware

21 Mar 2024

Sedbergh secured the Boys U16 Cup in sensational style on Day 4 in the Howden Rosslyn Park National Schools 7s, while Exeter College made history by winning the Girls ACE competition.

They were the key moments in what was an extraordinary fourth day of action at the Howden Rosslyn Park National Schools 7s, the busiest day of the competition so far as the Boys U18 Cup and Girls U18 Cup got underway and the Prep Schools tournament also took place.

Boys 16 Cup

The U16s tournament was won by Sedbergh in extraordinary fashion, this outstanding group from Cumbria topped one of the most competitive U16s tournaments in years. Teams had knocked seven bells out of each other before the knockouts, but throughout Sedbergh had seemed serene.

Adam Jacques picked up the Limitless Player of the Tournament award after some excellent displays, as Sedbergh topped their Day 2 Pool ahead of QEGS Wakefield, Campion, and Bristol Free School.

That sent them into a quarter final against KCS Wimbledon, who had headed their group ahead of Stowe, Whitgift, and Garth Olwg. Sedbergh were flying though and secured a fantastic 29-7 victory to go into the semi finals against a much fancied Epsom College side that had knocked out the holders, Harrow.

On the other side, Trinity, having beaten George Watson’s in the quarter finals were up against Bedford, who had just edged Clifton College. The South East London side won out in a cracker of a semi final, 17-10 to reach the final. Sedbergh, meanwhile, had put in arguably the most impressive display of the day in beating the superb Epsom College 38-5 to reach the final.

In the final Sedbergh were immense, putting in a display that will live long in finals memory for a 38-12 victory and the U16 Cup title, a huge feather in the cap for this outstanding group of young men, one of many and a great moment for the school in a week that ends with their prestigious Sedbergh 10s tournament and that began with the famed Wilson Run.

The Plate competition was equally superb, and saw Oakham run out as winners after an outstanding 20-0 victory over Stowe in the final, having topped a pool containing Bloxham and QEGS Wakefield, a brilliant achievement to add to the collection of the Rutland school that has had to much success on schools rugby playing fields across the land.

Girls ACE

There was history in the Girls ACE competition as Exeter College sealed the title with a magnificent performance in the final against Worthing College 20-7.

History in that it was the first time since 2018 that Hartpury College had not won the competition, the first time since 2012 since Hartpury hadn’t reached the final, a signal of the growing depth in Girls School Rugby.

Exeter were worthy winners, topping their group ahead of Oaklands College, Henley College, Loughborough College, and Worthing 2nds. Worthing’s 1sts meanwhile had done brilliantly to emerge from their group ahead of Filton Collgee, Hartpury College, City of Oxford College, and Bishop Burton College to reach the final. Once in that final though, the efforts required to top that pool perhaps took their toll as Exeter College put in a display of greatness, typified by player of the tournament Charlotte Rayfort, to win 20-7 and make Girls ACE history, and payback for last year’s final defeat.

Boys U18 Cup

After an epic first day of action in the Boys U18 Cup, Day 2 looks brutal. From the outset this competition is ferocious, 60 teams divided into twelve groups of six, where only the winners progress to Day 2 in the Cup, second place progressing to the Plate for Day 2.

It usually makes for tough Day 2 pools, from which the winners and one best runner up emerge to the knockout semi finals, but the 2024 Day 2 Cup pools might just top the lot – not least Pool C, which features arguably the three most successful sides in school 7s history, Sedbergh, Millfield, and Wellington College, plus the side that holds the St Joseph’s Festival and Sedbergh 10s titles, and reached the Schools Cup final last week, Kirkham Grammar School.

It is as difficult a pool as one could imagine, summarising the beauty of this competition, there are simply no easy rides. The other pools are not much easier. Reigning champions Harrow, bidding for yet more history as has been discussed at length, are up against Rosslyn Park legends Cranleigh, who reached the Surrey 7s final and won the Hampton 7s, as well as a Dulwich College side that has been flying in 7s season. Completing the group are Ipswich, Seaford 10s champions, Hurstpierpoint 7s champions, and a side that will have their eyes firmly set on Harrow after their Schools Cup defeat in December. It is a seriously tasty pool.

So too though is Pool B, with a Bromsgrove side that not only reached the Schools Cup semis but has also won plenty of 7s titles this term. Alongside them are a Whitgift side that has been absolutely flying, likewise Radley College, who have really stood out, and Gordon’s, who put the schools rugby world on notice at their own tournament earlier in the term and are looking very handy indeed.

Twelve teams then remain, and it is set to be an almighty tussle to see who ends up on top. A competition for the ages.

Over in the Plate it looks pretty tasty too, Pool A sees Welsh giants Llandovery College and Glantaf, the best side in Wales this year, up against Trinity and Bishop Wand. Meanwhile Group B features Warwick, Finborough, Bedford, and Clifton College, four more outstanding side. Group C looks amazing, Hampton actually beat Millfield but just missed out on making the Cup after defeat to St Joseph’s, they are in alongside a strong Blundell’s side, a Brighton College side that could so easily have been title contenders, and a Norwich side that played in commentator Dave Rogers’ favourite game of the week so far – check out today’s review show to see his reaction to it.

It is going to be a fantastic day in the Boys U18 Cup and Plate competitions on Friday!

Girls U18 Cup

At the time of writing the Girls U18 Cup Day 2 Pools have not yet been decided, but what has been is the day 1 pools and they were outstanding.

Reigning Champions Newman College were brilliant to finish at the top of their Pool, while there were familiar faces progressing elsewhere in the likes of Hartpury College, Oundle, Millfield, and Epsom College, all of whom have a reputation for excellent girls rugby programmes, likewise Peter Symonds’ College, who topped Pool K. Joining those six are Graveney and Hereford 6th form College, who both played outstandingly well.

The story of the day though was perhaps the winner of Group E, Canada’s For The Love Of The Game, who travelled over the Atlantic and arrived with a bang, sweeping all before them to progress to the Day 2 knockouts in stunning fashion. They are a hugely impressive outfit.

It all bodes well for a thrilling second day of action on Day 5 of the Howden Rosslyn Park National Schools 7s.

Prep Schools

It was a great day of play in the Prep Schools competition, where some great rugby was played in fantastic spirit. There was another international success story as Dubai College topped their pool, a feat also achieved by Hawthorns, Embley, and Danes Hill.

Warwick struck gold in Group A, while in Group B it was Felsted on top, with Bishop’s Stortford and Bedford topping Groups G and H respectively, Epsom College in Group I, and Seaford College in Group J on what was a glorious day for Prep Schools rugby across the country.

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