John Fisher School in Purley has been shortlisted as School of the Year in the national rugby awards.
The Catholic boys’ school has a long-standing reputation for producing outstanding sportsmen, including international rugby players Paul Sackey and Kyle Traynor, and European 400 metres champion Martyn Rooney, who is in action this week at the athletics world championships at the London Stadium.
On hearing of the school being shortlisted, Tom Street, the school’s head of PE and Rugby, said, “This is a great achievement for a state school like John Fisher. We are proud of our past and look forward to the future as we continue to offer first-class rugby provision for all our students, no matter their level. “
John Fisher competes at rugby the same level as well-funded independent schools such as Whitgift and Dulwich College, and every term-time Saturday from September to March puts out up to 23 teams using a large array of staff from various departments. They are the only state school to have regular fixtures with Eton College.
The annual day-long clash with Whitgift, by the time of the first XV fixture in mid-afternoon, can often see crowds of 2,000 spectators, drawn from families, old boys and younger pupils who played earlier in the day, gathered along the touchline at the school’s playing fields on Plough Lane or in South Croydon for some high-quality sport.
In 2009, Fisher’s 1st XV were semi-finalists in the Daily Mail RBS Cup, the English schools’ championships, only losing on penalty kicks, while in 2000 their U15s reached the Twickenham final of the same competition.
John Fisher has enjoyed much success in the Rosslyn Park National Sevens, finishing runners-up in 2014 and 2015. On both occasions, the finals have been re-staged as a demonstration event at Twickenham during the London Sevens weekend, which is the final event in international world series. On one occasion, the Fisher boys beat Millfield 38-5 in front of a crowd of 70,000.
The organisers of the national rugby awards have included John Fisher on the shortlist for 2017 alongside the place where the game began, Rugby School.
They say of Fisher, “This year’s shortlisting was a success for all state school sport at a time where it is near-impossible to compete with the big budgets and scholarships that independents can offer.”
The result of the national rugby awards will be announced on August 30.
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