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).”