King's lift national school rugby trophy


Promotional Feature

The King's U14 rugby team have lifted the famous national trophy at the spiritual home of rugby.

Playing the final of the School Sports' Magazine National Cup at The Close at Rugby School, where in 1823 William Webb Ellis picked up the ball and decided to run with it, the King's lads beat The Collegiate School Bristol 29 -19.

In the autumn, 128 schools nationwide entered the blue ribbon event, first playing regional rounds before the national knock-outs.

Having beaten Prince Henry's Grammar School Otley 20 - 15 in the quarter final and then Northampton Grammar 6 - 3 in a battle royal in the semi final, both schools from the heartlands of the game, the boys in blue knew they needed one final push for glory.

Speaking before the game, skipper and fly-half Hayden Olivier said: "We are not celebrating yet. We've done nothing until we win the final and we'll be playing hard from the first whistle." He was true to his word, as he led an early and devastating onslaught, maximising the benefit of a howling wind in their favour with some superb kicking, the talismanic Oliver orchestrated a 14 - 0 lead in the first six minutes.

The Bristolians did not know what had hit them with Oliver jinking left and right to dance under the posts before classy scrum-half, the terrier Alfie Tinkler pounced from close range. Power house titan Number Eight Harry Ashbrook then scored the first of a glorious hat-trick bull dozing over the line to leave King's 19 - 0 up at half time.

King's extended that lead after the break, sensibly keeping the ball tight against the wind, with the forwards soaking up pressure using sheer physical strength and allowing The Collegiate School only a sniff of a chance with two late tries. But it was too little, too late and King's could celebrate their first major national trophy win since 1948.

King's Head of Rugby Giles Hetherington said: "We have won Bowls and Vases in major national competitions, but never the main event and that cements our place at the truly elite level."

Giles then paid tribute to U14 coach and maestro Paul Bartle, who has taught rugby for 31 years, the first 10 years at Rugby School, where he returned to see his boys lift the silverware: "This team have great skills, outstanding team-work and a never say die spirit that have all been developed by Mr. Bartle." Paul Bartle deflected the praise, rather talking about his young charges: "The lads have been a joy to coach. We have some naturally talented ball players and athletes but more importantly, they work hard, think clearly and always play as a team."

Last year School Sports' Magazine placed King's in the UK's top 25 sporting schools. Later this weekend, King's U14 Netball squad will play in the National Netball Finals, and 45 King's pupils will compete in the National Trampoline Finals.

Kings School