This year’s Rugby Sevens – the first to feature the U14s as well as the U16s since before the pandemic – saw Tonbridge and Harrow schools claim the honour of being named champions in QE’s 450th anniversary year.
A total of 64 teams took part, confirming the event’s place as the country’s second-biggest schools rugby sevens tournament.
Many leading rugby schools joined the fray, with Tonbridge and Harrow both unbeaten on the way to their U16 and U14 Cup victories, while Framlingham College and Ipswich School respectively took the U16 and U14 Plate titles. Tonbridge’s results included two victories by a margin of more than 50 points, while Harrow saw off Berkhamsted School convincingly in their final.
QE’s own players also put in impressive performances, with emphatic wins achieved in both age categories.
Head of Rugby, James Clarke, said: “It was a great day with some excellent rugby on show, including from our own two teams.”
The tournament usually uses nine pitches, with games played at Barnet Elizabethans RFC, as well as at the School.
“It stays on track and is such a success every year due to the immense efforts from the PE staff, with my colleagues taking on the planning, organising, coaching and refereeing. Added to that are efforts of the prefects, who take charge of a lot of the logistics on the day including directing 62 visiting teams and their minibuses at both sites. And then there are our Year 7 and Year 8 helpers, who run all of the fixture cards to the two control centres when a game is finished, so that results can be updated live across our tournament site on TV screens, website and app.
“My huge thanks go to everyone who made the day possible.”
“Our U16 team, captained by Rohan Kumar, put in some impressive attacking play, scoring high- quality tries throughout the day,” said Mr Clarke. Having performed strongly against Gowerton School from Wales, they then lost to Woodlands School, Essex. “They regrouped, though, and won their final group game convincingly over Robert Clack School, Essex to finish third in the group, but unfortunately missed out on the knockout stages.”
“As for the U14s, they acquitted themselves brilliantly. Led by Victor Varbanov, they got off to a great start with a hard-fought 19-14 victory over Reigate Grammar School, Surrey. Caterham School, Surrey, proved too strong in game two, and it all came down to the final group game to decide whether QE would progress to the knockouts. An emphatic 40-0 win over Norwich School, Norfolk saw QE duly progress in second place and move into the Plate competition quarter-finals against local rivals St Albans School.
“It was a fiercely contested game that could have gone either way. In fact, had it not been for a last-ditch tap tackle on captain Victor, just as he appeared to have successfully burst through the St Albans defensive line, the boys may well have made the plate semi-finals. As it was, St Albans scored at the other end to seal a 24-12 win shortly after.
“Overall, some really competitive performances, though, among many of the best rugby schools in the country.”
The winning Cup finalists in both age groups will receive tickets to a Premiership Rugby match (as will members of QE’s soon-to-be-announced Rugby Team of the Year, in what is fast becoming an annual School tradition). “My thanks to our tournament sponsors, inspiresport, for making this possible,” said Mr Clarke.
The QE teams:
- U16 (all Year 11, except for Year 10 boys who are ‘playing up’): Rohan Kumar (captain), James Conway, John Chum, Akaash Gill, Zeyuan Wu, Theo Moses, Shreyaas Sandeep, Karan Chauhan, Aadam Aslam (Year 10), Timi Banjo (Year 10), Ubaidah Rahman (Year 10).
- U14s (all except Lakshmi are Year 9): Victor Varbanov (captain), Akira Norimura, Thomas Young, Aashir Irfan, Yashinth Sivananthan, Yashwant Reddy Sunkara, Oscar Kaltenbronn, Aarav Paul, Peter Atanasov, Faaiz Adil, Olic Fan, Lakshmi Chirumamilla (Year 8; playing up).
Tournament finals results
U16s Cup – Tonbridge School 21-14 Dulwich College
U16s Plate – Framlingham College 15-14 Berkhamsted School
U14s Cup – Harrow School 43-7 Berkhamsted School
U14s Plate – Ipswich School 21-7 St Albans School