Under 15 Rugby: Wellington Crowned National Champions

On Thursday 21st March, the Under15 Rugby team had the opportunity to play at Twickenham in the National Cup Final. Wellington College has a huge heritage in this competition, and this was the school’s 10th final, and the third in the last four years. In the build up to the game, the boys had met for an inspirational shirt presentation where previous winning captains Stu Mackie and Charlie Gordon sent video messages to the boys, as did Jonny Wilkinson. As well as these video messages the boys had powerful talks from Mr Taylor and Mr Oakman who spoke with passion about the history and tradition of rugby at Wellington. 2017 winning captain, Fin B. then spoke to the boys about the importance of embracing the occasion, creating memories and being positive in everything. Fin then presented the shirts to the boys before lead coach Mr Murray rounded everything off with a short talk on the bonds the boys had created and a brotherhood that would last a lifetime. It was a truly special event and one that left all involved feeling uplifted and ready for a challenge at the home of rugby. The boys then had the chance to experience life as a professional player in the build-up as they were put up in a hotel, had team meals provided, a team room and then got to walk into Twickenham through the Rose and Poppy gates, the same way that international players enter the changing rooms. Then came official photos before the boys warmed up for what promised to be a fantastic game of rugby.

The game itself was excellent with Wellington facing a very powerful Northampton School for Boys (NSB) side. As was to be expected from a game of this nature with sides of this quality, there was a huge amount of passion and determination on display from both sides. Wellington started the brighter of the two sides exerting pressure on the NSB line with a couple of powerful carries from Joe L puncturing the NSB defensive line. NSB were able to manufacture a turnover and cleared their lines well. Wellington’s Murdoch L seized the opportunity to go quickly and the ball found its way into Finn T’s hands in midfield who produced a dazzling break to score in the corner to see Wellington take a 5-0 lead. A penalty quickly followed from Lock to see Wellington take an 8-0 lead. This sparked life into the NSB side, and a period of heroic defence followed from Wellington. Over the course of the next eight minutes NSB deployed every weapon in their armoury but were met with ferocious defence from Wellington. Time and time again the Wellington boys put their bodies on the line with Liam T, Connor O’B, Arthur J and Louis H making telling defensive contributions. After turning the ball over Wellington were able to secure the ball and establish some territory. Outside half Samm D now showed a maturity that belied his years as he controlled the game magnificently, establishing territorial control and deploying the ball-carrying power of Will A and Henry S-S to create room for the footwork and guile of outside backs such as Dan W Camped deep in NSB territory, Wellington scrum-half James L produced one of the moments of the game as he charged down NSB’s talented outside half and very nearly scored an incredible try. However, it was not meant to be, and the first half ended at 8-0 to Wellington.

NSB started the brighter of the two teams in the second half and following an intensive series of attacks were able to cross the line to bring the score to 8-5. This is how the scores would stay for the next 15 minutes as the game became very tense as the crowd grew louder and both sides seemingly felt the tension of the occasion. Maintaining a narrow lead, it was Wellington who were able to remain calm, captain Monty F leading the way with his incredible work rate and outside centre Mason A finding some space to make a number of spectacular breaks, one nearly leading to a try for the excellent Richie R-F. It was the forwards who then applied pressure, a series of powerful carries from Will A, Connor O’ B and Henry S-S finished off as the excellent Johannes D crashed over to take the score to 13-5. Wellington now seemed more comfortable and began to play with more freedom; a brave restart from replacement David P saw a fluid move up the field culminating in a second score for the very impressive Finn T. This score allowed Wellington some room to breathe at 18-5 up and all remaining replacements came on to the pitch. With little time left on the clock Oli P carried hard into the NSB, this allowed quick ball thanks to good work from Olivier V D, Oliver W and Ollie K. Oz H then delivered excellent ball to allow man of the match Murdoch L to score in the corner.

This was truly a remarkable game and special team effort. Huge credit must go to Mr Taylor, Mr Pearson and Mr Greenwood for how thoroughly they prepared the boys for the challenges that they faced. A special mention is due to Mr Murray who has done an incredible job with this group, building a team spirit that will last a life time and helping to build character that will help the boys in all that they do. This team is perhaps best summed up by the words of Angus Savage of website XV rugby in their report on the game. “This is just a wonderful group of young men, whose character shines above all else.”

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