QE’s leading rugby players have excelled this term with a string of seven wins – thanks to the three Cs of commitment, competitiveness and a strong team culture. The First XV’s run of victories marks a sharp turnaround from last year’s solitary win.
PE & Games teacher James Clarke, who is the First XV coach, said: “I believe it is down to a group of very committed players with a real desire to improve every week, play for their teammates and never give up. The other key ingredient has been competition, with the Second XV winning most of their matches, putting pressure on the First XV. We have also introduced a leadership group, similar to England Rugby, that has led to an improvement in team culture and standards, and has allowed different voices to galvanise the squad, rather than just relying on one player.”
Headed by captain Keenan Dieobi, of Year 13, who set an example with a tally of tries running well into double figures, the First XV notched up “big wins” against St Albans and Bedford Modern. Mr Clarke, who is himself an Old Elizabethan, said these were the first victories against either school since his own playing days at QE in 2004-2005. “There was also a notable cup run that took us to the fourth round of the National Bowl, before eventually losing 17-10 away to Verulam School.”
Keenan was assisted by his four vice-captains, Justin Lee, Simon Rey, Nikhil Shah, and Rakul Sri, all of Year 13. “The other mention must go to Samuel Burgess, who has played almost every game this season at inside-centre for the First XV, despite still being in Year 11,” said Mr Clarke.
The season finished with a match against Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School at the impressive venue of Allianz Park, home of Saracens. Although Habs beat the First XV 18-10, it was nevertheless “a great night that was very well supported by Old Elizabethans, parents and friends” said Headmaster Neil Enright.
Those Old Elizabethans pictured are top row, left, to bottom right: Alex Grethe, Jake Nielen, Anton Bridge, Ioannis Loupas (all 2004-2011); Anoop Raghaven and Max Hassell, (both 2002–2009); Alvin Bombo (2002–2007); Gideon Levitt (2004–2011); Aaron Levitt (2002–2009); Matteo Yoon, Adam Kuo, Alex Goring (all 2003–2010), and Francis Vu (2000–2008). Also attending, among many others, were: David Clark (1993–2000), Paul Clark (1990–1997), Liam Higgs-Howson (2000–2007), Kelvin Hughes (1999–2006), Elliot Hughes (2002-2009) Tomas Vieira-Short (2010–2017) and Lee Wright (2001-2008).