After successful tournaments at Shiplake College and Hereford Marches with two finals under our belt, the players entered the Rosslyn Park National Schools Sevens full of confidence. With Cheltenham notoriously slow starters, the opening match against Queen Ethelburger's was something of a rarity and this followed throughout the group stages.
The quality of sevens rugby on show was some of the best we had played all season and as a result, we quite rightly went into the knockout stages against Worksop College with a genuine chance to go into the last 16 of the tournament.
It was a physical encounter but some great interplay between Joe Warner (U6, S) and Matthew Baker (U6, NH) freed up Dan Beachus (U6, BH) to score in the opening minute. Confidence within the squad grew and another four tries followed to finish with a comfortable win and for Cheltenham to progress into day two.
A total of 200 points scored and 10 conceded on the first day was very special and not seen before and showed the quality of the squad.
Our first quarter-final match was against Bishops Wordsworth on the main pitch and again showed the quality of teams in the tournament. The intensity and physicality were something we hadn't experienced before but Cheltenham coped well and went into the half-time level on points. The second half, however, was one of missed chances and, unfortunately, two costly errors meant we lost by just two points. We, therefore, had to win our next match against Eastbourne College to have any chance of progressing into the semi-finals.
Eastbourne College played a great brand of sevens and Cheltenham struggled to get hold of the ball. Conceding three tries in the first half resulted in an uphill battle and although Cheltenham clawed their way back with two tries of their own it, unfortunately, was too late.
The players throughout the term and at Rosslyn Park were exceptional. Having got to the last 16 in both the 16s and 18s, the programme in place clearly highlights that there is a bright future with sevens at College.
Cheltenham V Queen Ethelburga’s 36-0
Cheltenham V Hills Road Sixth Form 47-0
Cheltenham V Cabot Learning Centre 57-0
Cheltenham V Richard Huish College 43-0
Cheltenham V Worksop College 29-10
Cheltenham V Bishops Wordsworth’s School 19-21
Cheltenham V Eastbourne College 33-12
Cheltenham V Blundells 12-15
Dan Ali (U6, NH)
Barny Napier (U6, Xt)
Ed Johnston (L6, L)
Ethan Dowling (U6, L)
Matthew Baker (U6, NH)
Joe Warner (U6, S)
Dan Beachus (U6, BH)
Jamie Thorley (L6, BH)
Zeno Burchi-Khairy (5th, Xt)
Matthew Ward (U6, L)
Dan Ward (5th, NH)
Andy Chan (L6, Xt)
After a fantastic start to the sevens term with the Colts winning the Wellington School Sevens and runners up of the West of England Sevens, they were in high spirits leading into the Rosslyn Park National Schools Sevens. The squad prepared themselves superbly and embraced the gruelling schedule of knockout rugby, with over 160 schools competing in the Colts U16A competition.
Cheltenham won their group with a near perfect record, scoring 25 tries and only conceding two. In the knockout stage, a well-deserved win against Hinchley ensured progression to the last 16 and the final day of the competition, a first since 2003. The last 16 fixture was against Brighton College. An uncharacteristically slow start for the Colts meant that they conceded two tries within the first two minutes, and this proved to be too much to claw back. It was Cheltenham who, with a spirited fight back, finished the better side, patiently wearing down a strong Brighton defence. With time running out College was unable to find the match-winning try and Brighton College went on to win the Colts A competition.
The positive signs of what is to come from this group of players certainly outweigh the disappointment. The squad should be proud of their unrivalled attitude and skilful execution to their sevens play. This disappointment will only increase their hunger for success at their next visit to Rosslyn Park.
Cheltenham V International College Beirut 68-0
Cheltenham V Torquay Boys Grammar School 34-5
Cheltenham V Colfe’s School 53-0
Cheltenham V Robert Clack 35-0
Cheltenham V Hinchley Wood School 15-12
Cheltenham V Brighton College 12-17
Cameron Terry (5th, NH)
Ben Schallamach (5th, BH)
Charlie Boyce (5th, H)
Josh Pimlott (5th, L)
Gus Roberts (5th, Xt)
Olly Hill (5th, L)
Tom Stanton (5th, H)
Max Taylor Baggs (5th, BH)
Jonnie Kite (4th, H)
Paddy Christopher (5th, H)
Angus Thomson (4th, NH)
Barny Harris (5th, H)
Finn Logan (5th, BH)
Cheltenham v St John’s Leatherhead 12-15
Cheltenham v Leighton Park 52-5
Cheltenham v Wellington College 5-26
Cheltenham v University College School 0-22
Harry Stewart (3rd, L)
Jude Clayton (3rd, BH)
Louis Hillman-Cooper (3rd, S)
Ed Hitchins (3rd, NH)
Henry Tarrant (3rd, H)
Seb Blake (3rd, BH)
Archie Garbutt (3rd, S)
Bryn Fair (3rd, BH)
Max Sutton (3rd, NH)
Gus Milton (3rd, Xt)
Cameron Stevens (3rd, BH)
Games Buri (3rd, NH)