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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


Premiership prize for QE’s rugby élite

Boys of all ages chosen as last season’s top rugby players for QE enjoyed a special treat with a visit to watch Premiership side Saracens battle it out with Newcastle Falcons.

Most of the 15 boys selected by their PE teachers for the 2021–2022 Rugby Team of the Year headed to Saracens’ StoneX Stadium, where they saw the host side beat Newcastle 29-23.

Head of Rugby James Clarke said: “For all but three of the boys, this was the first live rugby match they’d seen in person, and they thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere and experience, despite having to brave the cold.”

Adding to the boys’ enjoyment was the exciting nature of this top-flight game, with the visitors staging a strong comeback in the second half.

Hosts Saracens were 29-13 up at half-time, while Newcastle were already down to 14 men, since Falcons lock Greg Peterson was sent off after just 16 minutes for a dangerously high tackle.

But in the second half, it was the Falcons who scored the only try. And tensions rose still further when fly-half Brett Connon scored a penalty for Newcastle two minutes into stoppage time (which also earned the visitors a bonus league point for losing by no more than seven points – the value of a converted try). In the end, however, Saracens were able to hold on for the win.

After the game, the QE visitors were able to meet some of the players, including England international Billy Vunipola, the Saracens No. 8.

The QE 2021–2022 Rugby Team of the Year, with their age categories at the time the team was announced, were:

  • Backs – Taro Niimura, U16; Thomas Young, U13; Esa Aslam, U12; Isa Sheikh, U12; Ubayd Uddin, U15; Andrew Mbogol, U16; Ubaidah Rahman. U14.
  • Forwards – Simardeep Sahota, U14; Aashir Irfan, U13; Soham Bhatnagar, U12; David Hirtopanu, U15; Nnanna Okore, U18; Edward Muscat, U14; Aaron Rodrigo, U15; Theo Moses, U15.

Earlier in the season, Year 8’s leading rugby players had enjoyed their own day out, which included a training session by the coaches at Premiership side London Irish RFC and a visit to Twickenham – the world’s biggest rugby union stadium – where they were able to look around the World Rugby Museum.

PE & Games teacher Ollie Di-Lieto said: “Having had a training session led by the London Irish coaches, we had the opportunity to watch the first team train and meet a few of the players. We met Ollie Hassell-Collins (in the England squad) and Henry Arundell (now also in the England squad: he scored on his England debut last year).”

Memories are made of this!

QE’s first post-pandemic skiing trip saw fifty boys take to the slopes of Canada’s ancient Purcell Mountains, some 4,500 miles away from home.

The group flew to the resort of Panorama in British Columbia on a eight-day trip during which they were able to enjoy five days of “fantastic” skiing.

As well as being able to take in the spectacular views of the Canadian Rockies, they benefitted from their hotel being conveniently close to the slopes.

Trip organiser and PE teacher Richard Scally said: “The Canadian Rockies are stunning, and this resort is considered to be in the top ten places to ski in the world.

“Snow is near-guaranteed there from early December through to late April and we were accordingly  treated to some fantastic skiing conditions, unhampered by the queues and crowded slopes that you often find at half-term in other resorts.”

Announced last summer, QE’s first skiing trip since 2019 attracted boys from across the School – pupils from current Years 8–13.

Their destination, Panorama Mountain Resort, which was founded as recently as 1962, is accessed by road from the town of Invermere, which is 11 miles away. It boasts one of the highest vertical drops in North America – some 1,300m.

The boys had five hours of instruction per day, while lessons had also been available for first-time skiers before departure to ensure participants could get the most out of their trip.

The QE group stayed at the Pine Inn, a hotel chosen because, unusually for North American resorts, it is ‘slope side’ – skiing jargon meaning that it is within walking distance of the ski lifts.

Having ‘slope side’, or ‘ski in, ski out’, accommodation meant it was quick, safe and convenient for the boys. It also had the advantage of being next to the resort’s hot springs, offering skiers great scope for relaxation and recovery after a hard day’s physical activity.

Once the day’s fun on the slopes was over, the boys had a programme of evening activities to enjoy, while a ski school presentation took place at the end of the week.

Reflecting afterwards on the trip, Mr Scally said: “With a high percentage of complete beginners this year, it could not have been a better introduction to skiing and mountain life.

“This is the second time Queen Elizabeth’s has now been to Panorama, and I am certain we will be back, as everyone left with the most amazing memories.”

Best in the world: Samuel’s new role at the Premier League

Samuel Akpan’s efforts to build a career in sports have received a major boost with his securing of a long internship at the Premier League.

Sam (OE 2011–2018) won an 18-month placement at the world’s most-watched sports league, where he will spend six months each in three departments.

And he is not the only Old Elizabethan at the Premier League: Piers Martin (1987–1994), son of Chairman of Governors Barrie Martin, is currently the league’s Head of Leadership and Academy Workforce Development.

“The Premier League is probably the best possible place to learn about the complete system of élite football – so I am very much excited by the future,” said Sam.

“The first department I was assigned to was within the football development team, which Piers is a senior figure on – focusing primarily on supporting and developing non-coaching staff off the field, such as academy managers and heads of operation. I certainly wasn’t expecting to meet an OE at the Premier League, but it is a very small world!

“I’m really enjoying supporting the operational element of organising events, working with the digital learning systems and helping contribute to the efficiency of all the different programmes being run. Having an input and being able to offer value to help academy staff is an amazing honour, and it has been very surreal even to visit Arsenal’s youth academy in Hale End.”

Samuel, who graduated in Politics & International Studies from Warwick last year, started making his mark while still a student in fields including social enterprise, sport and anti-racism work at the university. He was named among Future Leaders magazine’s 2021–2022 Top 150 of the most outstanding Black university students in Britain.

As to his future career path, Sam is maintaining a flexible position: “I want to take these 18 months to focus on developing my best skills and understand what this looks like within football, and sport generally.”

The photo shows Sam speaking at the Premier League’s recent Mentor Summit at Villa Park in Birmingham.