Last week, TRU's Imogen Ainsworth was at Twickenham to watch the stars of the future...
Old Swinford Hospital staged a remarkable comeback to take the win despite the final score being 33-33. Ben Radnor shone for Samuel Whitbread in the first half scoring all but five of their 33 points, however, a missed penalty kick at the death handed OSH the title.
Old Swinford Hospital opened the scoring through wing Luke Bimson on his first touch of the ball with under a minute of the game played. This score ultimately won OSH the vase, as the tie-break system states that if there is a draw and both teams are level on tries and conversions scored, the team that scored the first try of the game are awarded the title.
Samuel Whitbread replied eight minutes later with a well-timed offload from Sam Valpy allowing teammate Kieran Deans to slip through the defence.
OSH’s second then came from an impressive team effort and slick hands which set up full-back Zach Priestnall to score under the posts.
With 16 minutes played, Samuel Whitbread moved within two points of OSH with Radnor crossing the line after being set up by well-timed offloads from teammates Will Dorasamy and Albie Matthews before converting his own score.
A strong tap and go from Max Truby saw him puncture the defence and dive over the opposition for OSH 10 minutes before half-time. However, Samuel Whitbread were far from dejected and responded quickly from the restart with Radnor winning the battle in the air and racing away to score his second. His subsequent conversion brought his side level.
The momentum continued for Samuel Whitbread and Radnor, as he went on to complete his hat trick with 28 minutes played by leg driving through the grasps of two defenders after receiving the ball from Oliver Milward at the breakdown. He once more converted his own try.
Just before half-time, Samuel Whitbread extended their lead to 33-19 after they turned over the ball metres from the OSH line. Radnor went on to score yet again, this time out on the wing.
OSH were the only side to score in the second half, and their first came after a dominant rolling maul which left them just short of the line. Emmanuel Olaleye eventually weaved his way over to provide a vital score for OSH.
Rueben Uppal provided the score that edged his side closer to the victory as he peeled away to break Samuel Whitbread hearts, and another Teague conversion drew the sides level and ultimately secured the second vase title of the day for OSH after they won the U15s competition.
Samuel Whitbread looked close to scoring and disrupting the OSH party, particularly as opposition winger Daniel Lee Ajala gave away a penalty and was yellow-carded for a deliberate knock-on. Radnor stepped up to take the penalty and after spending most of the game as the hero for Samuel Whitbread, an uncharacteristic miss saw OSH take the title.
A brace from Oakham's Johnny Reynolds, Julius Timmermans, Alex Germany, Elliot Powell, and Harry Jones as well as two penalties from Ben Taylor, completed the perfect underdog comeback narrative which saw Oakham clinch the 33-24 win.
Trinity opened the scoring in the first two minutes as Kane Fleary spotted a gap from close range to bustle his way over the line.
They soon enjoyed a second, as a strong run from Quinn Singh gave them the metres required to move them closer to the Oakham line, ultimately allowing Max Farrell to score out wide.
With the scoreline at 12-0 with fewer than 10 minutes played, the blue and white shirts of Trinity looked to be thoroughly in control of the game.
Oakham, however, remained composed and weren’t deterred by the early setback. A dominant rolling maul that splintered the Trinity defence gave them their first try from Reynolds 11 minutes in.
After around 10 minutes scoreless, Trinity furthered their lead after a ridiculous display of speed from Roma Matebalavu tore up the wing before he went airborne to dot down perfectly in the corner.
Just before half-time, another strong forward pack display gave Oakham their second, this time with Timmermans peeling away and taking advantage of a slightly fatigued Trinity side. Taylor could not convert, and Oakham trailed 10-19 at half-time.
More photos from the match! ???????? pic.twitter.com/JYg0pKfoIX— Oakham School (@OakhamSch) March 16, 2023
And Oakham didn’t stop there. Wave upon wave of attack ultimately got the better of the two-time defending champions. Oakham’s fourth try came from the backs, with great hands from England U20s starlet Toby Cousins, alongside George Bland, which ultimately lead to Powell scoring in the corner to take their side ahead.
The forwards then prevailed once more with Jones' patience ultimately allowing him to sneak across the line.
Despite a poor kicking rate from the tee when converting tries, co-captain Taylor valiantly stepped up to edge Oakham closer to the Cup, scoring a long-range penalty with 10 minutes remaining. Soon after, he opted for the posts again and was successful in providing the points when they mattered, extending their lead to 31-19.
Josh Bellamy took an opportunity to provide a late flurry from Trinity, with a pinpoint cross-field kick landing in the arms of winger Max Farrell as he crossed in the corner.
Oakham swiftly ended Trinity’s hopes of a second consecutive Cup victory, and at the same time provided themselves with their first Cup title in 20 years with a 31-24 scoreline.
Speaking after the game, Director of Rugby at Oakham School Andy Rice, who will be stepping down from his role in the coming months, was full of pride for his young side who have written themselves into the history books.
He said: "We're ecstatic. It was a great game of rugby, credit to Trinity. It was a mature game of rugby. For the boys' game management, much credit must go to Ian Smith who coaches the forwards. The boys have to go out there and make the decisions themselves, and they did that. Anyone watching that with any half-decent rugby knowledge would have appreciated that performance. It was very very mature.
"To win this cup is incredibly hard. They've beaten probably three sides en route to get us to Twickenham who could have won the trophy. It was about the boys not having any regrets. I've used the word maturity. They had to assess where they were when they were 12-0 down and not panic. They were brilliant.
"You underestimate that they're too young to remember Jonny Wilkinson. When you talk about history, they are now very much at the forefront of Oakham School history. As Ian Smith says, the most important page of history is the next one, and they've written a pretty big page today."