Royal Grammar School


Historic victory for rugby 1st XV

Historic victory for rugby 1st XV

For the first time in history, RGS has won the prestigious St Joseph’s College National Schools’ Rugby Festival after a sensational weekend of top-quality rugby.

 The 1st XV went unbeaten during the festival, winning seven out of seven games, with some outstanding rugby full of precision and passion, played across the weekend.

 RGS beat 2017 runner-up and this year’s favourite, Millfield School, in the final to become the first northern side in over 20 years to win the trophy.

 Millfield took an early lead in the final, but our boys responded superbly as they went through phase after phase of pressure before Matthew Deehan (Year 11) burrowed over the line to take a lead 5-3.

 It wasn’t long before RGS extended their lead through Toby Peach (Lower Sixth) to 10-3, Peach being the instigator of another powerful display from the forwards.

 Millfield continued to claw back the deficit and they never looked out of the game, taking two penalties either side of half time to reduce the score to one; 10-9.

It seemed Millfield’s quality might win through and they would snatch victory from RGS’s hands, however RGS were not about to back down.

 The side that had been the talk of the tournament, thanks to the sheer power from the forward line, and defensive tenacity, soaked up phase upon phase of Millfield’s attack to stop them from breaching the try line.

 It was forward power again that put the game to bed, following a successful line-out which led to a 20-metre driving maul all the way to the line giving Toby Peach his second try, and James Blackett’s (Lower Sixth) conversion put RGS out of sight; 17-9.

 RGS were written off at the start of the festival after the draw had landed them in the group of doom with last year’s winners, Brighton College, Hampton and St Peter’s York.

After securing a stylish first victory against Hampton (23-5), RGS showed they were a real contender for the title. The boys would find themselves top of the group with 15-3 and 15-10 victories against Brighton and St Peter’s respectively.

The cups stage brought stronger competition; but a solid 10-8 victory against Denstone College, 6-0 victory against Hurstpierpoint and a commanding 23-0 victory against Merchiston saw them march into the final.

 Will Pettifer (Upper Sixth), captain, said:

“It’s been a fantastic weekend of rugby and a great honour to lead this team. We’ve shown immense passion and team spirit which has gotten us through this festival. I’m really excited about what we can achieve over the rest of the season.”

Andy Watt, Head Coach and Teacher in charge of rugby at RGS, said:

"This is a very special achievement, not only to come away victorious in the most prestigious festival in British schoolboy rugby, but to win all seven matches is simply breathtakingly. The incredible team spirt, willingness to work for each other and the never-give-up attitude, were key characteristics of our success. I am delighted that all the hours that the players, RGS coaches and Newcastle Falcons Academy staff have put in, both on and off the pitch, this season have successfully paid off. The boys are a credit, not only to RGS, but also school’s rugby in the North."

John Fern, Headmaster of RGS, said:

“This really is an outstanding achievement for everyone involved and I congratulate the whole team and squad on their performance. To go through the entire tournament unbeaten is an accolade in itself but to also beat competition who have rugby scholarships demonstrates just how impressive they were.”