Kings’ School Rugby Goes from Strength to Strength
Following the huge successes of last academic year, with Hampshire Plate glory for both the Under 15 and Under 16 teams, as well as a hugely successful tour to South Africa in Easter 2009 – the Kings’ rugby players have been hard at it again since September this year, training hard, playing harder and making excellent progress on all rugby fronts.
The U13 boys have again played some excellent rugby, under the guidance of Mr Rossiter. They have progressed pleasingly since last year and continue to play rugby the way it should be played – open, expansive and free flowing. At the start of the season many of the boys travelled with the U14’s to play vs. Portsmouth Grammar School 2nd and 3rd XV teams, running out 31-19 winners against their older opposition. They followed this up with a convincing win over Hounsdown 34-0. Sadly further fixtures prior to Christmas with Bryanston and Oaklands were badly affected by cancellations and weather. On the 2nd December 2009, the boys travelled to Bryanston to play in the annual 7’s event. They enjoyed an excellent day’s rugby (despite the atrocious weather!) playing schools of real rugby pedigree from the private/independent sector narrowly missing out on qualification for the latter stages of the event. The boys look forward to Year 9 rugby now and the chance to compete for the Hampshire U14 10’s title, as well as the opportunity to state their claim for Hampshire selection.
The U14 team, a side that have struggled at times with their transition from the mini/midi format of the game, are without question the most improved side at Kings’. Following a narrow defeat at the hands of Portsmouth Grammar School 2nd XV, they were soundly beaten by over 50 points by a strong and robust Hounsdown side, a school making real progress in terms of rugby development. The boys could have been forgiven for being disheartened. Instead they united as a team, attended training in greater numbers and began to make real, noticeable improvements. The culmination of this was a thrilling game vs. Lord Wandsworth College, where despite losing 17-0, the sense of personal victory was tangible in the boys and their tackle rate, aggression and commitment to the team and one another was superb. They now look forward to their rugby in Year 10 where they have both the Hampshire cup and Daily Mail National Cups to look forward to with real optimism. Congratulations Lawrence Haynes and Alex Machin for successfully making it through Hampshire selection.
The U15 side have had arguably “the most successful season in the history of Kings’ School”, to quote former Head of Physical Education Tony Thompson and have “put Kings’ School, Winchester firmly on the national rugby map” to use the words of Daily Mail sports correspondent Jim Hooley. Year 10 rugby at Kings’ sees all our teams embark on the road to Twickenham in the Daily Mail RBS National Cup. This year’s campaign started with convincing wins over local rivals Henry Beaufort and Salesians College in the early rounds before meeting Royal Grammar School Guildford, previous winners of the tournament in Round 4. After a tough and attritional first half, the boys produced a performance full of flair and creativity to run out comfortable winners 30-3. Following this Whitgift School were the opposition in Round 5, a school of the highest rugby calibre, winners of the U15 and U18 competitions in the past. In a quite magnificent game of rugby, supported by some 100 spectators, the boys produced a rousing defensive performance to squeeze past Whitgift 14-12. Round 6 pit Kings’ against a state school for the first time since Round 2 with John Fisher, Purely being the visitors to Kings’ in mid December. In yet another tense, nail biting and defence dominated affair the boys triumphed by 7-3 against a robust, well drilled and disciplined side to the delight of the gathered support. Now just 3 steps from Twickenham, the U15’s faced Hampton, Richmond in the last 16 encounter on January 20th. In a quite magnificent game, where the advantage changed a rapidly as the swirling wind and rain, Kings’ were narrowly defeated 12-8 by a side that appeared to have all the right qualities to make it all the way to final. The National cup has provided such a valuable experience to the boys, who have played some exceptional rugby, scored some breath-taking tries, grown and developed as young men and once again been a pleasure and privilege to work with. What a journey!
Almost as a side show to the National Cup heroics was the Hampshire Cup campaign, where as expected the boys progressed to the final to face Portsmouth Grammar School on the 10th February. Sadly despite being hot favourites to lift the Hampshire title for the 2nd year running the boys were beaten 7-0 by a PGS side that have developed and progressed incredibly to avenge, where it mattered most, heavy reversals in previous encounters to take the silverware.
The U16 squad, in the final year playing rugby for Kings’ have had a superb season, following their Hampshire plate success last year. They started their season by beating Hounsdown 29-0 and then exemplified their progress since South Africa by beating Bryanston 25-15 in a close encounter at Kings’ in mid October. The followed this up with a more comfortable win over Oaklands School, running out 24-0 winners, producing a display full of pace and power. The boys also made it through to the Hampshire Cup final beating Perins 26-7 in the semi final (played as part of the Kings/Perins Cup on the 12th December). They went into the final vs. Portsmouth Grammar School as underdogs, and despite a below par first half performance they only trailed their opponents by 7 points at the interval. PGS however proved too strong and run out eventual and deserved winners 25-14. Over the past 5 years the squad have been a pleasure to work with; a confident, committed and talented group of boys who have learnt a lot from their rugby experiences at Kings’ and grown into likeable and respectable young men. We wish them well in their rugby lives beyond Kings’ School.
The Under 12’s began their extra-curricular rugby programme after Christmas allowing them the opportunity to learn the basics of rugby in their curricular lessons and also to allow more time, focus and staffing to be devoted to their rugby development in their first year at Kings’. Attendance and enthusiasm has been magnificent with over 40 boys turning up to rugby club each week. They are beginning to grasp the concepts of effective match play and are showing signs that they will develop into a competitive side. They began their season with A and B team victories over Hounsdown in early January, playing some entertaining and thoughtful rugby in the process. They then enjoyed an evening of rugby in the Floodlit League at Winchester RFC playing Westgate, Toynbee and Thornden, winning 2 of their 3 matches. Future matches include Pilgrims, Toynbee, Amery Hill, Swanmore and Perins as well as a festival of rugby at HMS Collingwood in mid March.
They have been told to memorise 2 key concepts in that, “contact is the last option” and “if contact is inevitable then it is on our terms” the challenge will be to get them to play the game, the Kings’ way and they show every sign that they will rise to all challenges set for them.
Girls Rugby is developing at Kings’ with many girls attending practices (organised by Mrs Rossiter) before Christmas held by coaches from Winchester RFC and First Contact Sport. The U16 girls have had one match vs. Perins, which they lost narrowly, despite playing excellently, on Saturday 12th December as part of the Kings/Perins Cup. Further matches for Under 14 and 16 sides have been pencilled in for the spring term – watch this space!
Congratulations go to Hannah Bryan, a Year 11 pupil who represents not only Hampshire but also the South East for rugby, for her tireless efforts in drumming up support and enthusiasm for the girl’s game at Kings’. We have high hopes for the future of girl’s rugby at Kings’ School.
The Kings ‘School Rugby Ethos – Rugby is open to all pupils irrespective of ability level or knowledge of the game. The parameters for success are wide; in that as much pride is placed in the number of players enjoying the game as honours and accolades collected.