“It was an ugly win,” said Pete Nicholls, father of the Whitgift School’s Under-18s captain, Tom, after Saturday’s Daily Mail Cup semi-final. “But a win’s a win.”
And so, after a 20-17 victory over Wilmslow at Broadstreet RFC, the South Croydon school side, winners of the national schools’ rugby competition last year, will return to Twickenham for another final on April 6.
After conceding an early interception try, flying fullback Chris Crane – who started his rugby career at the age of 7 at Warlingham RFC and at Cumnor House prep school – and Elliot Daly, the England U20s centre, both grabbed converted tries to help put Whitgift 20-7 ahead just after half-time.
Wilmslow tried to battled back, scoring two tries, but could convert neither as the cup-holders held on to set up a Twickenham date next month with Oakham School, already two-time winners of the Daily Mail Cup.
The rugby team will be bidding to match the achievements of the school’s hockey teams, who recently created history when the U16s and U18s both won their national schools indoor hockey titles.
Such trophies rubber stamp the accolade of “Independent School of the Year” afforded to Whitgift at the Daily Telegraph/Aviva School Sport Matters Awards, presented at Wembley Stadium last year, after teams had won 2010 national titles in cricket and football as well as rugby and hockey.