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Home > News > Sandbach School come out of the shadows
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Your News Sandbach School come out of the shadows
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Sandbach School are just one win away from an appearance at Twickenham in the final of the Daily Mail RBS RU Schools Under 18 Vase, but their resilience and technique will be tested to the full when they meet Welbeck Defence 6th Form College from Loughborough at Broad Street RFC on Saturday (February 27, 2010) in the Semi-finals.

"From what we hear, Welbeck are a forward orientated side with a big pack, so winning ball at the breakdown is going to be a key area for us," says Master in Charge Simon Robertson: "We're not a very big side and rely a lot on our technique, so we will need to be on our game. One important plus for us in this department has been the improvement Joel Unsworth has brought to the forwards since he joined us.

"He's had a massive impact on the organisation of the side and done a very good job with the pack. He's taken them to a different level in a short space of time since he came in as a cover supply teacher."

Another valuable source of input has come from a quartet of 'old boys' who are currently making their way in the professional game with Sale Sharks. James Gaskell, Lee Imiolek, Tom Holmes and Will Cliff have all been back to the school to help the current squad, which perhaps appropriate given that this gifted quartet raised the bar for the players following on at Sandbach.

"We've lived in the shadow of a very successful team for a couple of years, with that success breeding high expectations of the teams following them." says Robertson: "But we didn't have that calibre of player available and when we lost 15 players at the end of the term, we had to start again at the bottom.

"With only one lad from the Upper Sixth in the team last year, we had a very ropy season and this year we started with 18 of the 30-man squad injured, so the first half-term was very disappointing.

"Ironically, the tough start appears to have worked in our favour. Initially we had a rough ride at the hands of some of our local rivals. It was very painful early on in that we lacked consistency and any kind of structure, but eventually we pulled things together and now the lads are playing with the confidence that comes off the back of 10 wins.

"Now we're punching above our weight and we've put in some very good 15-man performances. The Daily Mail Vase takes you out of your normal environment and out of your comfort zone to play people who don't normally come across. It's a fantastic experience for the lads and they've grown into it during trips to places like Crossley Heath and Austin Friars.

"They've kept their feet firmly on the ground as a team and simply look forward to another day out and to playing rugby like schoolboy rugby should be played."

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