RUGBY ROUND-UP: It was ecstasy and agony at Allianz Park for Whitgift School last weekend as they came within a clause in the rule book from getting both their teams through to Twickenham finals later this month.
The South Croydon independent school’s first XV were putting on the Ritz on Saturday, as they blasted past Marlborough College 57-15 to qualify for the under-18 final of the national schools’ rugby competition for the first time since they last won the trophy in 2011.
This year’s final, to be played at Headquarters next Thursday, March 21, will see Whitgift take on Warwick School, the winners of the NatWest Schools’ Cup for the past two years.
Whitgift’s under-15s, who were defending the title won 12 months ago, were cruelly denied their Twickenham place when they drew their semi-final on Sunday, 15-15 with Wellington College. Wellington progressed into the final because they scored more tries, three to Whitgift’s two. While Whitgift kicked one conversion and a penalty, Wellington failed to score any points with their… err… boots.
The Whitgift cadre which won back-to-back schools titles in 2010 included Elliot Daly, Marland Yarde and Harry Williams, who all went on to become England international players – Daly playing at fullback for England against Scotland in the Calcutta Cup match at Twickenham this Saturday.
The Fifteen rugby website described the 2019 Whitgift’s under-18s’ semi-final win as a “truly brilliant performance”, which was managed despite having star player Harry Dugmore enduring a spell in the sin bin for a high tackle.
Wing Charlie Cadogan scored three tries for Whitgift. Among the other scorers in the eight-try romp was Aristot Benz-Solomon, part of last year’s under-15s cup-winning side which earned the school’s sports staff a generous night out at the Ritz.
Coach Graham Shaw was named as volunteer of the month by Surrey Rugby in February, for his role in “the growth and sustainability of girls rugby at Warlingham RFC working closely with the U13s and U15s”.
Shaw also coaches the county’s age-group girls’ sides, and in February they called up five players from Warlingham.
“He is someone who is always looking to learn and improve his coaching, which has led him towards other significant coaching positions within Surrey,” the county RFU said.
“His can-do attitude, growth mindset and positively is inspirational for the young people that he coaches, encouraging those to stay within the game at club level.”
At senior men’s level, Warlingham, after a promising autumn campaign in London 3 South-West, have gone four games without a win since the end of January, some by annoyingly narrow margins, such as a disappointing 14-20 reverse at Hamsey Green against Andover and a 22-21 defeat at United Services.
Last Saturday, the Hamsey Green regulars saw their side rolled over 26-6 by promotion-chasing Battersea Ironsides for the latest part of the slump.
While Warlingham have suffered a lean spell, Old Whitgiftians, last season’s Surrey champions, have managed to drag themselves out of imminent threat of relegation with three decent wins, including an important 49-31 win over fellow strugglers Petersfield last Saturday.
In the division below, Surrey 1, Old Mid-Whitgiftians have also suffered a loss of form, the latest a 20-48 defeat against Weybridge Vandals. It means MidWives have been overtaken in mid-table by local rivals Old Walcountians, who have enjoyed a run of three wins since their dour 8-3 derby defeat to Chipstead at the end of January.
With somewhat deft timing, Walcs host MidWives at their Clockhouse ground in Woodmansterne this Saturday, the only scheduled fixture in Surrey 1 this weekend. Kick-off timings may be adjusted to avoid clashing with any Six Nations distractions.
Purley-John Fisher look like they will be promoted back to Surrey 1 next term, as with just three fixtures of their league season remaining, they sit atop Surrey 2, five points clear of Kingston. But they could probably do without the tension of last weekend’s result, a 10-10 draw at Cranleigh which saw their lead at the top of the table reduced.
In contrast, Streatham-Croydon, despite finally managing to nail their first win of the season, 34-24 at Old Wellingtonians earlier this month, appear doomed to relegation.
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