RGS First XV Crowned National Champions
Reigate Grammar School First XV rugby boys secured the U18 NatWest Plate title winning 20-16 in a nail-biting final against Solihull School at Sixways Stadium on Tuesday.
Despite an injury hit start to the season, a huge squad effort enabled the RGS boys to progress through the early knockout stages of the NatWest Plate competition. A home win over Portsmouth Grammar was followed by one of the performances of the season away to Downside. In the quarter final game against St Colombas, RGS began to really fire as some of the regular starters returned to the fold – winning 53-19. This set up a semi-final against a physical Crossley Heath Grammar where the RGS boys shone through with a 38-14 victory, taking the boys into the final against Solihull School at Sixways Statium, Worcester, along with a vast array of supporters.
The first half saw huge defences from both sides and fierce work at the breakdown taking the score to 6 a piece for the 1st 30 mins with Lucas O (RGS) and Tom S (Solihull) landing superb alternate penalties. Total dominance at the line out and possession of the ball from RGS was countered by a brutal defence and excellent kicking from Solihull. However, in the last minutes of the 1st half, the Solihull defence wilted and the power and pace of Reigate led to Joe G diving over in the corner. It truly was a magnificent team try, with team-mates Max C and Joe G setting it up nicely. The try was converted and RGS entered the break with a slim 13-6 advantage.
The 2nd half began with Solihull getting on the front foot and winning a kickable penalty to close the gap to 13-9. This swing of momentum then reversed with some fine handling and high tempo play from RGS leading to scrum half, Alexander S, sniping through under the posts. The try was converted and now the lead had stretched to 20-9. This wasn’t to be the end for Solihull though and they hammered away at the Reigate defence for the final 10 minutes. It didn’t look like the break would happen until a barrelling run resulted in a try under the posts for the midlands school. All of a sudden the momentum was with Solihull, who were now within a try of their opponents, and with so little time left, it seemed like things could go either way, particularly when RGS missed a penalty chance.
It was a tense and nervous ending, but it was RGS’s day with the boys becoming NatWest Plate champions for 2017, the second occasion in their school lives to be crowned national champions. Huge credit should be given to Solihull who were valiant and brave runners up. The final was a fitting end to the rugby careers of a very talented and hard working group of Reigate Grammar School boys.