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Harrow successfully defend title as home side battle hard in rain-hit QE Sevens

The 48th Annual Queen Elizabeth’s School Sevens brought out the best in competitors and helpers alike, with teams serving up some exciting rugby despite the challenging conditions.

Weeks of rain leading up to the tournament ruled out Barnet Elizabethans RFC’s pitches, which meant that only pitches at the School were available. As a result, only the U14 competition could proceed.

Harrow School’s squad took the Cup for the second year running, beating Bedford School 12-5 in the final. In the Plate, it was Abingdon School who ran out winners in the final over Berkhamsted School.

QE’s Head of Rugby James Clarke said: “Well done to all the players, coaches and parents who braved and battled the elements. From looking splendid in the sunshine of the Friday afternoon, conditions deteriorated, with the day of play on Sunday coinciding with yet more persistent rain.”

“With the QE Sevens attracting many of the country’s top rugby schools, competition was tough, but our home U14 side nevertheless acquitted themselves well in their three group-stage matches.”

Mr Clarke thanked: Headmaster Neil Enright for allowing the tournament to go ahead; sponsors inspiresport; and his colleagues in the PE department for their assistance. “Huge credit to the London Society of Referees, our School prefects and Year 7 volunteers who ensured the tournament ran as smoothly as it did. Thank you also to all schools for their continued support of the tournament.”

After a slow start to their opening fixture as everyone literally tried to get to grips with the slippery ball, QE’s U14 rebounded strongly against Reigate Grammar School in the second half, pulling back one try. Zach Mannathukaran narrowly missed out on a remarkable length-of-the-field score when the ball was knocked-on in goal as he was attempting to secure the grounding.

“Anticipating a very tough second fixture, the boys fronted up and were hugely competitive against Framlingham,” said Mr Clarke. Captain Lakshmi Chirumamilla scored the second try with a dart from the scrum down the blindside – part of another second-half comeback. “QE’s players were thinking that they had at least earned a draw with this try. There was however some confusion regarding whether conversions for the respective teams had been made, and a 14-12 defeat was declared the result by the referee, who was closest to the action.”

“This meant that the boys could no longer qualify for the knock-out rounds, but another creditable outing the in the third match, against Gravesend Grammar, showcased some of the positive aspects of their game, with another two tries scored demonstrating ability in attack.”

“Thinuka Kapugama Geeganage and Tanush Madadi, making their Sevens debuts, added a direct approach, carrying hard and offloading well up the middle,” Mr Clarke concluded.

Tournament sponsors inspiresport provided the cup winners with tickets to a Premiership rugby match, as well as hosting the coaches for lunch.

Full results can be viewed here:

  • To view photos, click on the thumbnails below.


After celebrating season’s rugby successes, School now looks forward to the QE Sevens

As the School’s U14 and U16 rugby squads prepare to welcome teams from around the country to the 48th annual QE Sevens tournament, their U15 counterparts are reflecting on a strong national competition run.

Another recent highlight was the first-ever QE Rugby Dinner, which saw top players from all year groups come together to celebrate their love of the game.

The QE Sevens, held this year on Sunday 10th March, is one of the country’s biggest school sevens tournaments. It has cup and plate competitions for both U16 and U14 age groups. QE’s own players recently got some practice in at warm-up sevens tournaments at Haberdashers’ and London Oratory schools.

Head of Rugby James Clarke said: “We are busy putting in place the final preparations for the big day. QE Sevens provides invaluable opportunities for our rising players to test themselves against strong opposition. It’s an event at which QE families, alumni and staff can welcome old friends and make new ones.

“Most of all, it’s a great day out at the School – an opportunity to cheer on the home teams and to watch highly competitive, fast-moving rugby in a convivial atmosphere. The action starts at 11:00am. It’s free, and spectators are welcome just to turn up on the day: we look forward, as usual, to seeing many supporters on the touchline!”

The U15s stormed through three rounds of the National Bowl to reach a fifth-round home game against Emanuel School in Battersea. With no first round played, they had kicked off their campaign by securing a convincing 36-7 win in October against Hampstead’s University College School.

They then dispatched both Parmiter’s School, from Garston – whom they defeated 15-12 in round 3 – and Debden Park High School, from Loughton in Essex – against whom the winning margin was greater, with the final score at 25-14.

In their encounter with Emanuel School, they led throughout, amassing a 14-3 lead in the second half. However, after a strong fightback by the visitors, they saw victory snatched from their grasp by an Emanuel try in the last play of the match.

“It was a truly painful defeat,” said Mr Clarke. “Had the boys managed to hold on and see out the match, they would only have been two games from the final at Twickenham. But they should be congratulated on playing some fantastic rugby, both in this game and throughout their run.”

There was some consolation for several of the U15 backline when they found themselves named in the QE Team of the Year, which was announced at the inaugural Rugby Dinner in the Shearly Hall.

There were also prizes for boys of all ages in the Most Improved Player, Players’ Player, and Player of the Season categories.

Inspirational speeches came in the form of videos from current South African captain Siya Kolisi and London’s Maggie Alphonsi MBE, former flanker for Saracens and England.

Also speaking on video was guest speaker Desh Ganeshamoorthy (OE 2014–2021), a former First XV player, who fondly recalled his own QE rugby memories: “I think I ended up playing every position but fly half and scrum half…it was so much fun.”


Thrills – and not too many spills – on an alpine adventure

With beginners making up at least half the 80-strong party that headed for the French alps, this year’s QE skiing trip was a time to enjoy thrilling new experiences alongside friends and classmates.

The boys enjoyed plenty of time on the slopes in the beautiful setting of Les Deux Alpes, near Grenoble – the destination for this year’s nine-day, half-term trip.

Group leader Richard Scally said: “It was a super trip, with everyone having a good time – and no major injuries!

“Such visits provide adventure and fresh experiences for the boys, and are a really important element in the QE experience.”

Les Deux Alpes, a ‘snowsure’ resort popular with British skiers, boasts a number of records: it has Europe’s largest skiable glacier and is also home to the longest fully on-piste vertical in the world, at 2,200m.

In total, Les Deux Alpes has 200km of on-piste terrain, ensuring that skiers of all abilities and experiences can enjoy their alpine adventure.

The boys stayed at the traditional Le Soleil alpine hotel in the centre of the village. Its après-ski attractions include a cosy fire area, ping-pong and table football.

Their busy programme when not skiing included ten-pin bowling and the opportunity to see some spectacular ice sculptures.

The trip began with a coach journey of more than 21 hours that took them all the way from the School to the resort, and included crossing the Channel on the Dover–Dunkirk ferry.

The boys were accompanied by ten members of staff, led by Mr Scally, who is QE’s Head of Cricket and Combined Cadet Force Contingent Commander.

He said: “Temperatures were very warm – up to 18 degrees one day.

“Snow was good at higher altitude, but, in an indication of how the climate is changing in the alps, it was interesting to see things getting a little slushy lower down in the afternoons.”

Destinations for the long-running QE skiing trip have in recent years ranged from the Italian alps to the Purcell Mountains, close to the Canadian Rockies.

  • Click on the thumbnails below to see more images from the trip.
Taking on the international tourists

The final days of term brought two opportunities for QE’s cricketers to play against top opposition from two different continents on home territory.

First, the élite academy squad from Sri Lanka’s Mercantile Cricket Association, pictured above, played the First XI. This was a warm-up 25-over game for the visitors ahead of the inaugural International Council of Cricket Academies Global Junior Cricket Championship at Worksop College, an independent school in Nottinghamshire.

Their side included players from Royal College, Colombo, which is one of the venues visited by QE touring parties on past sports tours to Sri Lanka.

Also en route to the ICCA championship were the American players from the Major League Cricket Academy based on the US East Coast, who took on the Second XI.

Head of Cricket Richard Scally said: “Having two high-calibre sides to play was a great way to see out the term, and although our sides had mixed fortunes, I have no doubt that both will have gained from the experience.

“And who knows? There may even be a return leg against the Sri Lankans if we go on tour there again in the future.”

The game against the Sri Lankans could hardly have been closer: it ended in a tie, with Year 12’s Divyesh Bansal QE’s best bowler, taking 3 wickets for 2 runs off 4 overs.

The Second XI fell short in their game, being bowled out some way off the target set by the Americans of 188 from 25 overs.

Mr Scally said it had nevertheless been a great opportunity to introduce Year 10’s Ved Nair, Daksh Vinnakota and Krutarth Behera to senior cricket. Ved recorded figures of 30-2 off 5 overs.

The two visiting sides went on to face teams from countries including India, Zimbabwe and UAE in Nottinghamshire. They also came up against each other during the championship, with the Americans winning by 16 runs.


Stapylton storm through to take the House trophy, while Broughton’s long Sports Day winning streak continues

Stapylton were crowned winners of the 2022­–2023 House competition, with House Captain Shivam Singh and his deputy, Madhav Menon, proudly lifting the Shearly Cup.

The eagerly awaited result was announced to great excitement in the end-of-year assembly. This academic year’s competition was an emphatic reversal of last year: Stapylton not only enjoyed a certain margin of victory over runners-up Leicester, they also left the 2021–2022 winners, Harrisons’, languishing in the lower reaches of the points table.

One of the biggest sources of points in the House competition is Sports Day. Postponed twice because of inclement weather, or poor weather forecasts, Sports Day was eventually held this year on the penultimate day of term. It was won by Broughton for the fifth consecutive year. Because it came too late for the points to be added to this year’s total, they will be instead be rolled over into the new House competition for 2023­–2024.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “My congratulations go to Stapylton on their triumph in the House competition. Their success is the result of consistent effort in many aspects of School life by pupils of all ages. The Broughton boys gave their House a useful head start in next year’s competition with another splendid Sports Day performance.”

The House system is run by the boys themselves, with each of the six Houses having a House Captain, Deputy House Captain and Charities Officer. Each form within every year group also has a House representative.

In addition to raising money individually for a local charity, the Houses compete throughout the year and gain points for the competition in a wide variety of inter-House events, ranging from quizzes to Music contests.

Points are also awarded based on the totals of merits, good notes and commendations earned across the year groups.

Stapylton House, which has blue as its colour, is named after former Chairman of Governors H. E. Chetwynd Stapylton (1873–1885). In 1886, when the School was still based in its historic home of Tudor Hall, he bought the field in front of what is now the Main Building for the School’s use.

Not only is the Stapylton Field very much still in use today ­­– notably for cricket, rugby and the Founder’s Day Fete ­– but its acquisition helped QE secure a perfect site for the relocation of the School to its present Queen’s Road site in 1932.


Rising fives: QE nominated for Team of the Year award

The recent rise of Eton Fives at Queen Elizabeth’s School has now been recognised with a nomination for the Team of the Year award from the sport’s governing body.

Having last year won the Eton Fives Association’s U14 Beginners’ competition, the Year 10 QE pair of Yash Kedia and Zayn Phoplankar went one better this season, becoming fully fledged U15 champions after beating Berkhamsted School’s best in the National Schools’ Championship. It is thought to be the first-ever national championship title for a QE Fives pairing.

In a further sign of the sport’s growing strength at the School, Year 9 novices Veer Gali Sanjeev and Ishaan Mishra reached the final of this year’s U14 Beginners’ Competition.

Headmaster Neil Enright: “I am super-proud that we have been nominated for such a prestigious award. My congratulations go to our Director of Sport, Jonathan Hart, his colleagues and, of course, our brilliant student players.”

The EFA citation for the award begins: “With just one court, the success story in recent years of Fives at [QE] is quite remarkable.” It goes on to praise the “large numbers of players produced” and the “strength in depth” evident at QE.

The Team of the Year award will be decided by a vote of EFA members.

Other Team of the Year nominations include independent Ipswich School and St Olave’s Grammar School in Orpington, as well as clubs associated with: Berkhamsted; Magdalene College, Cambridge, and the Old Salopians (alumni of Shrewsbury School).

Eton Fives is a hand-ball game developed in the late 19th century at Eton College. It is played only as ‘doubles’ (i.e. by two pairs of players); there is no official ‘singles’ version of the game.

QE’s association with the sport goes back more than 140 years. Its first Fives courts at QE were opened at the School’s previous Wood Street premises in 1880, following a £10 grant from the Governors and a special fund-raising concert.

After QE’s move to an entirely new site in Queen’s Road in 1932, the sport languished for some years and it was not until the post-World War II rebuilding programme in 1951–52 that plans for a single new court were considered. By 1954, the court was complete, and the School was affiliated to the Eton Fives Association and entered the Public Schools Championships in 1955.

Like all Eton Fives courts, QE’s has only three sides, and is open at the back. It includes architectural features of the Eton College chapel, including a protruding buttress.

Old Elizabethan Sunil Tailor (1999–2006) is now an EFA trustee.

Anniversary festival celebrates rugby’s place in the School’s history

The PE department rounded off the season with its own anniversary celebrations in a QE 450 Rugby Festival.

With events targeted at players from all years, the festival was one of a number of innovative subject festivals being held as part of QE’s new Flourish extra-curricular programme.

Director of Sport Jon Hart said: “Competitive rugby has been played at QE for more than 100 years, so it occupies an important place in the School’s history. Therefore, we wanted to ensure the game was included in QE’s 450th anniversary celebrations.

“At the same time, our festival provided opportunities for boys of all ages – from giving our youngest Elizabethans the opportunity to have fun and develop a love of the game by playing against each other in an inter-House competition, through to helping our leading young sportsmen finesse their performance through learning about nutrition.”

The festival began with last month’s 47th Annual QE Rugby Sevens Tournament, the second-largest schools sevens tournament in the country.

Played at U14 as well as U16 level for the first time since before the pandemic, the tournament attracted 64 teams from many of England’s leading rugby schools. Tonbridge and Harrow schools took the U16 and U14 cups respectively, while QE’s own players performed well, achieving emphatic wins in both age categories.

The second event combined rugby skills with charity fundraising: a kicking event for pupils from Years 7–10 which raised money for the Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospice in Barnet. The hospice has for some years been a popular target for fundraising efforts at QE.

Next came a Year 7 inter-House rugby competition. All Year 7 boys took part in this event, which ran during the course of an afternoon. Each of the School’s six Houses took on all of the other Houses.

Finally, caterers Holroyd Howe gave a specialist nutrition presentation, to which selected sportsmen from Years 7–10, including top rugby players, were invited. The aim was to develop these young athletes’ understanding of the important effect that nutrition has on sporting performance.


Eton Fives stars shine at Shrewsbury!

Fives pair Yash Kedia and Zayn Phoplankar are fully fledged national champions in their sport after beating off multiple challenges in the U15 finals.

They sealed their achievement – thought to be a first for QE – with a win against the top pairing from local rivals Berkhamsted School in the Eton Fives National Schools’ Championships at Shrewsbury School.

Director of Sport Jon Hart said: “Huge congratulations go to Zayn and Yash on their success in the finals. Last year, they started making a name for themselves when they won the U14 novices championship – thought to be the first time a QE pair had even reached a Fives final.

“Now they have gone one better by becoming fully fledged national champions. It’s a brilliant result that really puts QE on the Eton Fives map.”

QE’s leading Year 10 pair first took on hosts Shrewsbury School in the group stages, beating them 2-0, with scores of 12-1 and 12-7. The quarter-finals saw Yash and Zedia face St Olave’s Grammar School, Orpington, whom they defeated 3-0.

Having successfully made it through the day and returned very late to Barnet, they were back in Shrewsbury the next day for the climax of the U15 competition.

In the semi-finals, they took on Berkhamsted’s number 2 pair, beating them 12-8, 12-4, 14-11. The final against Berkhamsted’s top U15 pair represented their toughest challenge yet. “They managed to beat Berkhamsted in a five-set thriller (7-12, 12-7, 12-8, 4-12, 12-6),” said Mr Hart.

“This is a fantastic achievement for the boys. Having won the U14 beginners’ tournament last year, to go on and win the ‘main’ a year on, really shows their development, talent and teamwork,” said Mr Hart.

“These boys are role models to the rest of the QE Eton Fives squads and will hopefully spur others on to follow in their footsteps.”

“There were lots of really positive comments from the Eton Fives community, offers of extra coaching – and some disbelief that we only have one court!”

There was also success at U14 level again this year, where Year 9 pair Veer Gali Sanjeev and Ishaan Mishra came close to emulating Yash and Zayn’s 2022 feat in the U14 Beginners’ Competition. They reached the final, before being beaten by host school Shrewsbury’s number 1 pair.

Eton Fives is a hand-ball game developed in the late 19th century at Eton College. It is played only as ‘doubles’ (i.e. by two pairs of players); there is no official ‘singles’ version of the game.

The ball may only hit the floor once, but may bounce off the walls and ledges any number of times. Games within a match are generally played up to a score of 12, with a pair only scoring when it is their serve.

The ball, which is a little larger than a golf-ball and made of cork and rubber, is quite hard. Players wear padded leather gloves.

Like all Eton Fives courts, QE’s, has only three sides, and is open at the back. It includes architectural features of the Eton College chapel, including a protruding buttress.


Triple victories secure first water polo trophy of the 21st century

QE’s all-conquering U15 water polo squad brought home the National Bowl trophy for their age group – believed to be the School’s first silverware in the sport for a generation.

Their day at the national finals at Northampton School for Boys began with a solid 8-6 win over Newcastle-under-Lyme School.

After achieving a 4-3 victory over Warwick in the last minute of the game, the young team, comprising nine Year 9 boys playing alongside five Year 10s, then had their final match against Charterhouse.

The team, captained by Year 10’s Karan Somani, duly ended their campaign in some style, trouncing the independent school 8-0. Head of Aquatics Richard Scally said: “The team played their best water polo of the day to secure this emphatic win.”

The National Bowl is the English Schools Swimming Association’s water polo competition for developing schools.

“Their winning of the trophy represents an outstanding success,” said Mr Scally. “It is testament to the hard work and commitment of the boys. Water polo has been building in strength and depth here over a number of years, aided by our great home facilities in the Martin Pool.”

Two of the Year 9 boys, Keeyan Shah and Peter Atanasov, have already gained regional and national recognition for their efforts in water polo. And, with so many Year 9 boys lining up with the Year 10s in the winning squad, the National Bowl triumph augurs well for the future, Mr Scally added.

At senior level, QE’s U18 first team began 2023 with a visit from some Old Elizabethan players, led by Rishi Amin (OE 2015-2022). The alumni dominated for most of the first half, although the U18 players’ fitness paid dividends later in the match.

After that friendly, it was soon time for the senior players to get down to the serious business of competitive fixtures.

They succeeded in reaching the national semi-finals for their age group, where the top 12 schools in the country play in three semi-finals. “Unfortunately, in a very tough group, we didn’t make it to the finals this year, but we have a young side, so that bodes well for the coming years, where they can hopefully go one step further,” said Mr Scally.

The U15 National Bowl champions are:

Peter Atanasov, Year 9
Victor Varbanov, Year 9
Keeyan Shah, Year 9
Daniel Amon, Year 10
Karan Somani (Capt), Year 10
Mohammad Arif, Year 10
Ernest Gresty, Year 9
Jeevan Karthick Thiyagarajan, Year 9
Yik To, Year 10
Gregory Kalogirou, Year 9
Noah Morley, Year 9
Taylan Zuhtu, Year 9
Kavin Rameshshanker, Year 10
Ozgan Cakir, Year 9




The 47th QE Annual QE Sevens: great rugby, impressive logistics and strong showings from the home sides

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