Big Stir Amongst Big Hitters
Stamford School First XV took on one of the toughest challenges in schoolboy sport competing in the 25th National Schools Rugby Festival staged at St Joseph’s College, Ipswich.
16 of the top rugby playing schools from all over the UK took part in the prestigious tournament, including Millfield School, Bedford School, Colstons School and Dulwich College. During this two day event four pools are contested on the Saturday followed by Cup and Plate pools on the Sunday. Stamford got off to a great start beating Portsmouth Grammar School 17-10, inspired by star performers Tom Gulland, Angus Green and Justin Bland. The pack then produced a great display led by Ethan Moss and Lewis Nettleton to pip John Fisher School 13-12. In game three they took on the hosts St Joseph’s College and great first half displays from Ben Lovell and Angus Pinner saw them go 3-0 at the break to silence a huge home crowd. Unfortunately a sin bin put Stamford under too much pressure and with the scores at 3-3, they conceded. Whilst disappointed with the loss, the team were through to the main cup competition.
Sunday brought bright sunshine and a step up in the quality of the opposition. The day started badly as Stamford produced a disappointing nervous display in game one, eventually going down 8-0 to Dulwich College. Furious with themselves and determined to right the wrongs, Stamford set about their task of winning their last two games. Tom Wire and Owen Smith caused all sorts of headaches for Brighton College and Captain Louis Grimoldby produced a virtuoso display, kicking three from three to claim a tough 9-8 victory. In their final game they faced Tonbridge. Stamford produced their finest team display led by half backs Tom Pritchard and skipper Grimoldby. News came through from the adjacent pitch that Dulwich College were losing and as the second Stamford try went over, a backdoor into the final creaked open.
Ultimately Dulwich drew their game and went on to win the tournament. Stamford won 17-0 and were left rueing a below-par start to the day. They claimed third place with Millfield School.
First XV Coach David Laventure was full of praise for the boys; “This is a fantastic event against some big hitting opposition. The rugby is fast, physical and the boys really get to understand what playing under pressure is all about. They did a wonderful job. There are some tired legs out there but they should be very happy with what they achieved.”
The First XV have enjoyed their best start to a season in six years with seven wins from seven games, including wins over Bedford Modern, Mill Hill, Haileybury, Uppingham and Oundle School in the second round of the Daily Mail under 18 Cup.