Rosslyn Park National Schools Sevens

On Sunday 19 March, the Senior VIIs rugby squad set off on an exciting trip to take part in the prestigious Rosslyn Park National Schools Sevens in London, the world’s largest rugby tournament. Spirits were high and there was a lot of excitement to be taking part for the first time in the history of the College.

After an interesting ride across London on the Underground, the squad made it to Wimbledon and their accommodation. A quick turnaround followed and then the obligatory dinner at Nandos and an early night ahead of a big day of rugby on Monday.

Our first game against John Colet school saw us take the lead with two quick tries from Will and Callum. Unfortunately, we made a few errors, allowing them back into the game with two tries of their own, before Will settled the nerves again with his second. The second half was a bit of a see-saw affair, with Will bagging his hattrick before two more tries from John Colet to make the score 26-24 to us. After a period of sustained pressure on their line, Captain Jack finally steadied the ship with a try in the last play of the game. 33-24 to Victoria College, but with a bigger challenge to come next.

After the obligatory team photo, attention shifted to the big group match, against St Paul’s School on the Main Pitch, broadcast live on the England Rugby YouTube channel to friends, family and a few classmates back in Jersey. Much of the first half saw the team camped on our own line, defending valiantly. In fact, the commentator remarked that “This is the best defensive display we’ve seen today”. Without having seen the ball against a battle hardened St Paul’s outfit, the team were only 5-0 down entering the last play of the first half. With a penalty awarded in our own 22m, the team kept the ball alive for over 90 seconds with a move that included line breaks, one-handed offloads, sidesteps, a cross-field kick and a goosestep. The Victoria College VII went end-to-end, try machine Will scoring his fourth of the tournament and Charlie slotting the conversion. Remarkably 7-5 at half time against one of the powerhouses of schoolboy rugby in the south of England. The second half started with Victoria College 5m from the opposition line with the ball before being penalised for holding on. This visibly took the wind from our sails, and suddenly, the experience of three tournaments already this season from St Paul’s showed. They scored three good tries, capitalised on our mistakes and ended up running out 29-7 winners. They would go on to get to the final 28 teams in the country.

With the possibility of topping our group now gone, the team did well to get themselves up for the final game. Conceding three quick scores against the Duke of York Royal Military School certainly woke us up, and although Charlie got us back in the game with a try at the start of the second half, we were always playing catch up.

With some tired bodies, but no rugby left to play, we had the chance to take in the rest of the tournament. It was great to see the very best school rugby in the country, and also see teams from Dubai, Canada and New Zealand – we made a pledge to be back next year.

There was no other option for a bunch of weary rugby players for dinner on the final evening other than a Brazilian Rodizio, an all you can eat meat buffet, served at the table. We certainly got our money’s worth!

After a later than usual start on Tuesday, the squad went for a walk through beautiful Wimbledon Common to the tournament to take in a bit more of the action, before a return journey to Heathrow that took in two public buses and the Underground.

With heavy legs, a few bruises, but a sense of pride that we’d gone toe-to-toe with a top team on the big stage, we returned home. Onwards to next year!

Please follow the link to watch the second match against St Paul’s School.

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