Woodhouse Grove are the inaugural winners of the Daily Mail Schools Trophy having put together an unbeaten campaign of 12 matches. And the Bradford-based school finished off by putting on a champion display after some words of encouragement from Sir Clive Woodward, the Daily Mail’s rugby columnist.
Sir Clive presented the trophy at a special assembly for the victorious squad the day before they played Lancaster RGS in their final match, having already clinched the trophy.
‘No pressure, then,’ Sir Clive joked to the Woodhouse players before adding: ‘just make sure you win to round off your excellent term.’
Woodhouse went on to beat the Lancaster school 43-0, including a first-half display which head of rugby Adrian Sweeney described as ‘one of the most complete’ his team had put together. Sweeney said the victory had achieved a target set in September when the Trophy started on a merit table basis for the top rugby-playing schools playing regular fixtures over the autumn term.
‘We knew we had a good squad and the trophy was a good opportunity to set a goal which we have achieved,’ he added.
Woodhouse accumulated 498 points in an unbeaten run which took in some of the best rugby-playing schools on the northern circuit.
The closest match was a 16-14 win over King’s, Macclesfield, which was secured by a last-ditch drop goal from fly half Charlie Morgan.
‘There’s nothing wrong in winning games through drop goals,’ added Sir Clive remembering the deeds of Jonny Wilkinson at the 2003 Rugby World Cup.
Woodhouse’s most impressive form came in back-to-back wins over two tough opponents in Grammar School of Leeds (27-5) and Durham (41-17). A strong, all-round team was well led by captain and scrum-half Jack Maplesden, who is a member of the Saracens academy. Tries against RGS Lancaster came from Morgan, full-back Ben Magee (2), wing Dylan Budge, hooker Dan Radigan, flanker Adam May and lock Henrik Ek.
Success for Woodhouse continues a strong rugby tradition emphasised by a number of players led by Paul Sampson, Joe Bedford and Dan Scarbrough who have gone into the professional ranks.
Overall, this present first team has only been defeated twice in 15-a-side games since coming together as under-13s.
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