U18s make it to finals of Rosslyn Park

U18s make it to finals of Rosslyn Park

After a total of seven tournaments across the term for the U14s, U16s and U18s, the Rugby Sevens season ended with a climax in the shape of the Rosslyn Park National Schools' Sevens. Some 750 schools compete across the five days, making it the largest schools tournament in the world. Cheltenham entered four teams: Prep, U14s, U16s and U18s. See the tables below for the College's results. 

U18s tournament report

The seniors, largely made up of Lower Sixth students, bar the exception of Ed Johnston (U6, L) and Jamie Thorley (U6, BH), entered the tournament in good form knowing that the potential in the squad could progress them into the knock out stages. However, the beauty of Rosslyn Park is that teams enter from far and wide and with limited knowledge, you have to perform at your best in each game. The opening rounds against King's Bruton and Mount Kelly were a steady test and took its toll on the squad, losing James Davies (L6, H) to a dislocated shoulder in the first carry.  This was a great shame as James was one of our most consistent performers in the 15-man game. However, this didn’t deter the players and we went into our third match of the group against Merchant Taylors knowing that the winner would top the group and progress into the knock out stages.

Cheltenham played fantastically from start to finish and starved the opposition of the ball. Some lovely touches from Dan Ward (L6, NH) and Josh Hughes (L6, NH) freed up Jamie Thorley (U6, BH) to touch down early on and some heroic defending from Tom Stanton (L6, H) kept Merchant Taylors' at bay. The game finished 28-7 and this form continued into our last game of the group against Ysgol Gyfun Gwyr, where Cheltenham, on a wider pitch, played some free flowing rugby that resulted in a comfortable win.

The squad then progressed into the knockout game against Loughborough Endowed School, who had also won their group. The players had saved their best until last and produced the performance of the day, scoring some length of the field tries through fantastic support play and offloads. The team went into the group quarter-final having only conceded four tries on day one.

Day two is often all about mental resilience as fatigue slowly begins to set in. We faced two teams who were previous winners of the tournament in Stowe and Monmouth and also regular opponents in the 15-man game. Both games were great spectacles and Cheltenham came from behind in each to snatch victory. The sheer ‘never say die’ attitude from the players was quite remarkable. Cameron Terry (L6, NH) turned the ball over from pressure at the scrum and quick thinking by Josh Hughes (L6, NH) led to a simple two on one with Tom Stanton (L6, H) and Jamie Thorley (U6, BH) to score in the corner and send the team into the semi-finals.

Naturally, the six teams left in the competition are the top rugby schools in the country and with each player needing every ounce of energy, we faced another tough group in St Peter's York, who were unbeaten in their XV season, and back-to-back Natwest Cup Champions, Bromsgrove. The first game against St Peter's York was a physical encounter. With some great interplay between Ed Johnston (U6, L) and Jamie Thorley (U6, BH), as well as strong defence from Aiden Ali (L6, NH), Cheltenham managed to hold on and win 14-10. The team, therefore, needed a win against Bromsgrove to progress into the final. It was a nervy start and some uncharacteristic errors allowed Bromsgrove to get the upper hand. With four minutes remaining the team were 17-7 down and looking to go out of the tournament. However, a moment of brilliance from Josh Hughes (L6, NH) split the defence open and some fantastic support play from Aiden Ali (L6, NH) brought the score to within three points. Ed Johnston (U6, L) then won the restart and Jamie Thorley (U6, BH) did the rest, as he had been all tournament, meaning Cheltenham had yet again come from behind and progressed into the final of Rosslyn Park, for the first time in 12 years.

The final, being streamed live was watched by everyone back in Cheltenham. St John's Leatherhead was the opposition who had arguably been the form side in the tournament. They started extremely well and through errors of our own, went into half time 21-7 up. But yet again Cheltenham wouldn’t give in and a great pick up from Josh Hughes (L6, NH) freed Zeno Burchi Khairy (L6, Xt) on the left wing who went in to score unopposed and set up a tense finish. College had the momentum and with seconds remaining a great turnover at the scrum meant the ball became free and Tom Stanton (L6, H) picked up and dived over in the corner to set up a kick to tie the game.  It, unfortunately, was an extremely difficult kick to make and just dropped short meaning St John's took the title.

Nevertheless, the team had, throughout the tournament, gone above and beyond what was asked of them. Playing 10 games over two days is some challenge. Led fantastically by Ed Johnston (U6, L), the sheer will and desire to come from behind on countless occasions and perform the way they did was a testament to themselves and the school.

Each team did fantastically well and represented themselves and the school with distinction. Overall the four teams played 28 games, won 21, lost 4 and drew 1. A huge thank you must go to all the coaches who have trained the players and taken teams to tournaments around the country. We look forward to doing it all again next year!



Group King's School Bruton W 29-0
  Mount Kelly W 38-7
  Merchant Taylors' W 28-7
  Ysgol Gyfun Gwyr W 33-10
Knockout Loughborough Grammar School W 47-0
Quarter-finals Stowe W 19-14
  Monmouth W 20-12
Semi-finals St Peter's York  W 14-10
  Bromsgrove W 24-17
Final St John's Leatherhead L 26-24


Group            Hymers College  W 28-0
  RGS Newcastle L 36-7
  Kings School, Canterbury              W 24-5
  Ysgol Llandaff W 32-21


Group Aberdare Community School  W 26-7
  Eton College  W 17-10
  Ysgol Sir Thomas Picton School  W 21-5
  Maidstone Grammar School  D 17-17
Knock Out Bishops Stortford high School  L 24-5
Plate Group RGS Guilford  W 31-5
  Wycliffe College  L 20-0

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