FARLINGAYE STEAL SHOW AT TWICKENHAM IN EMERGING SCHOOLS FINALS
By Simon Mills, RFU Press Office Farlingaye stole the show at Twickenham today with a display of their try-scoring power in the finals of the Daily Express Emerging Schools Rugby Festival. The Woodbridge school ran in three in 10 minutes to seal victory over Chaucer Tech, from Canterbury, and capture the Under-12 New Schools title in front of 50,000 fans during the half-time interval of the annual Babcock Trophy Army v Navy game. The other title winners in the world’s biggest schools rugby event were Honywood, from Essex, lifted the Under-13 New Schools title, Kingsbridge from Devon (Under-12 Emerging), Harrogate (Under-13 Emerging), Aldridge, from Walsall (Under-14), and Winston Churchill, from Woking, who claimed the Under-14 Girls crown. Farlingaye didn’t concede a try on the finals day, winning all three games at Staines RFC in the morning before Richard Clark scored twice on the hallowed turf with scrum-half and captain Josh Masters also touching down to complete the job. “We are a little bit surprised but we’ve only conceded one try in this whole tournament and we’ve played with a lot of intensity,” said coach Nik Baidoo. “Most of the boys don’t start playing the game at all until they come to the school but they’ve worked really hard to learn the game and they’re very proud of their defensive record.” Their East Anglian neighbours Honywood, from Coggeshall, thoroughly enjoyed their big day with a 10-0 win over Heathside secured by tries from Matthew Howe and Austin Beckett. “From a PE teacher’s perspective the RFU have organised a fantastic event and I can’t think of any other sport that would allow kids to play at a venue like this,” said James Munro, part of a coaching team that included Jack Wiggins, Gwyn Walters under the direction of head of PE Chris Sim. “The boys have been dreaming about this all year and now they’ve done it. They’ve worked really hard and they get a great deal of enjoyment out of the game. “We’ve only got five rugby players – the rest are footballers, but we’re hoping we can convert them to the game full-time.” Harrogate came close to pulling off an unprecedented double on the hallowed turf of Twickenham in the finals of the Daily Express Emerging Schools Rugby Festival. The Yorkshire school’s Under-13 side lifted one title and their Under-12 team were beaten finalists in an event that has given 50,000 children the chance to take part in a national competition this season. Captain Jack Barnard’s try secured the Under-13 Emerging trophy in a 5-0 win against Midlands side Alvechurch. “We thought we’d blown it at one stage when we lost our final group game,” admitted teacher Chris McDonald, standing in for coach Gordon Tweedle on the big day. “We got through to the final on the try count and it was a great achievement to have two teams playing at Twickenham. “Both sides enjoyed themselves and getting to play here is a massive bonus. “We have a lot of players who weren’t particularly involved in rugby before they came to us so it’s great to be able develop their interest and we find more and more are going on to play for our local club side as a result.” Kingsbridge captain Stuart Townsend led from the front with the try that secured the Devon’s side’s 5-0 victory in the Under-12 Emerging final against Harrogate. And their relaxed approach to the big occasion helped them stay cool under pressure in front of a big crowd at the home of England Rugby. Instead of cramming last-minute training into their schedule, coaches Gary Burman and Steve Gardner opted for a more unorthodox warm-up. “We came up the day before and the RFU put us up in a hotel at Heathrow, so we decided to take it easy and went to a water park in Swindon on the way,” said Burman. “The distraction seemed to work, it took their minds off it and we’ll have to do it every time now! “The local club where we are is very big on junior rugby but as a school we’ve never got this far and the boys have played for each other brilliantly.” Aldridge, from Walsall, defeated Frederick Gent, from Derbyshire, in the first boys Under-14 final of the expanded competition. Even though they lost impressive centre Ralph Clarke to a wrist injury in the morning, his teammates regrouped and a James Harris try secured the title. It was all the more impressive as the Emerging Schools tournament is the only rugby Aldridge play. “A couple play at clubs like Walsall or Wolverhampton but we’ve got half-a-dozen boys who don’t play anywhere else but they’re very athletic and they’ve learned really quickly from the more experienced boys,” said coach Liam Morrissy. “This year the interest is growing and lots of our players organising their own games at school between themselves.” The growth of the girls game in schools was demonstrated by a high quality final in which Winston Churchill, from Woking, edged past Wootton Upper, from Bedfordshire, 5-0 with a try from Gilly Thomas. “We only started playing about a year ago but rugby for girls is becoming huge at our school,” said coach Joe Callender. “We get 50 girls playing every Friday and they’re an awesome group. They’ve only conceded one try since the start of the whole competition in October.” Pool stage participants: Under-12 New: Pool A: Honywood, Central Tech, Durham Johnston, Sir William Ramsey. Pool B: Heathside, De Ferrers, Birkdale High, Hardenhuish. Under-13 New: Pool A: Farlingaye, West Bridgford, John Spence, Mountbatten. Pool B: Chaucer Tech, Hagley, All Hallows, Stonehenge. Under-12 Emerging: Pool A: Philip Morant, Carres, Harrogate, Bay House. Pool B: Norton Knatchbull, Chase Malvern, Whitby High, Kingsbridge. Under-13 Emerging: Pool A: Philip Morant, Wrenn, Harrogate, Cottesloe. Pool B: Bishop Justus, Alvechurch, St Cuthberts, Mangotsfield. Under-14 Boys: Pool A: St Marys, Frederick Gent, Acklam Grange, Southdown High. Pool B: Heathside, Aldridge, Moorside, Swindon. Under-14 Girls: Pool A: Twyford, Wootton Upper, Settle, Perins. Pool B: Winston Churchill, Blessed Edward Oldcorne, Wyndham, Newquay Tretherras.