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Home > News > RGS Newcastle and Sandbach one step from Twickenham
Your News RGS Newcastle and Sandbach one step from Twickenham

When the Royal Grammar School Newcastle Under 18 team lost three games in the first month of the season, they could not have predicted that six months down the line they would be one game away from a place in the Twickenham final of the Daily Mail RBS Schools Cup on March 31, 2010.

Since that modest start, however, the team has blossomed into one of the best combinations the school has produced and now boasts a record of 14 wins and four defeats and a place in the Semi-finals of the Daily Mail RBS competition against Stowe School, Buckinghamshire at Broad Street RFC on Saturday week, February 27, 2010.

"We had a blip at the start of the season with injuries and a new coach requiring a bedding in period, but since October we've had a cracking season, losing once to Ampleforth when we had the captain, vice-captain and another player injured," says Master-in-Charge Andy Watt.

"It's been a very good season by our standards in that among our wins we've beaten Barnard Castle 26-19 in the local derby and Kirkham and we've also had a couple of very good wins on the road in the Cup at Hymers College and King's Macclesfield.

"We also had a very long trip to Skinners at Tunbridge Wells. That trip took it out of the boys and we were 10-0 down at half-time, but we dug in against the slope and the wind. The 10-point lead was never really enough and with the conditions in our favour we came through to win, fitness being a big factor in the victory."

Another key strength in the team is its maturity, with 13 Upper Sixth students involved. Their County and Divisional appearances were earned last year and now they had gravitated to Newcastle Falcons involvement, with seven the team involved in Kingston Park development.

At this stage the shining light is half-back Joel Hodgson, who is heading for the Falcons via the England Under 18 team. Received wisdom is that scrum-half will be his best position when he moves into the senior ranks, but he enjoys wearing the No 10 shirt for RGS and they are happy to indulge that preference.

With their Falcons contingent spread strategically through the team and Hodgson to direct operations, RGS could be forgiven for thinking that they only have to turn up at Broad Street to claim a Twickenham place.

But Watt is having none of that. He says: "From what we hear, Stowe have a big lad at tight-head prop and a fly-half who kicks a lot. We also see that they have been involved in some very tight games en route to the semi-final, so they are experienced in close encounters.

"I also think that like us, everyone outside Stowe was expecting Warwick to win the Quarter-final, so Stowe's win came as a wake-up call to all of us. We won't be underestimating them in any way."

Winners of the tie will face the winners of the second semi between RGS High Wycombe and Whitgift, which will also be played on February 27 at Broad Street.

Also bidding to clinch a place for the North at Twickenham in the final of the Daily Mail RBS Under 18 Vase on March 31 are Sandbach School, who meet Welbeck Defence VI Form College on Sunday week, February 28, also at Broad Street RFC.

Both Quarter-finals leading to this pairing were very tight affairs, with Sandbach beating visitors Worksop College 17-13 and Welbeck getting through on a 2-1 try count after drawing 10-10 at home to Manchester Grammar.

The winners will meet the winners of the other Semi between Coopers Company and Coburn School and Norwich School at Twickenham.

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