Cranleigh have become the second school ever to win the Rosslyn Park HSBC National Schools Sevens Cup title twice in row, and to reach the final in the third year. They also became the first school ever to win three trophies in a row and make a final in the fourth time of asking. In 2015 the School won the bowl; in 2016 and 2017 they won the Cup and this year they made the final losing to the eventual winners Sedburgh. The U18 sevens side went to the Rosslyn Park Sevens competition on the back of their maiden victory at the Surrey School Sevens competition two weeks earlier in Richmond.
On the Thursday they had to play four matches against tough opposition from across the UK. They won all four matches scoring a combined total of 162 points and conceding only 26. Within their group was George Watson’s College Edinburgh who later went on to reach the semi-final of the plate competition.
The final day consisted of three stages. The first was the quarter finals in which the top of the group goes through. Cranleigh won their first two matches well before playing Whitgift in the group decider. An early try from Harry Barlow and some strong defence meant that with a minute to go the team were 12-5 up. In the last play, the team kept the ball for over 90 seconds before Hugh Tizard crossed the line to take them through to the semi-finals.
Meeting them there was Harrow; the team they beat two weeks earlier in the Surrey Sevens Final. This was a terrific contest with both sides giving everything for a place in the final. Harry Barlow once again scored early but it was a brilliant try saving tackle from Harry Serjeant which turned the tide the way of the School. Later tries from Charlie Edwards, Harry Serjeant and Oscar Beard meant the team managed to win 26-5 and once again would play in the final of the largest school sports competition in the world. It involves over 9000 players and has sides from across the UK and further afield with American and Australian teams making the journey to compete.
The final was against Sedburgh, who like Cranleigh were unbeaten in the XV’s season. Arguably the best two XV’s teams in the country were now playing against each other to see who would be the best at Sevens. Cranleigh started brilliantly with pressure defence leading to a try by Harry Barlow off a scrum. Unfortunately for the team, the next two kick offs couldn’t be controlled and the powerful Sedburgh side who had a handful of school boy internationals in their side took advantage. The second half was a brutal affair with both teams throwing everything at it. Cranleigh scored through Sam Davies but some outstanding defence from Sedburgh on their own line gave them the victory.
“What this group of players have achieved over the course of the season has been outstanding. Unbeaten in the XV’s, winning the Surrey Sevens for the first time in our history and now playing so well and coming second in the country is truly remarkable. They worked so hard and have given so much that I couldn’t be prouder. We spoke all season about the desire to have no regrets and these lads certainly don’t have any. The vast majority still remember losing 70% of their games when they were U14; now five years later they have achieved what back then would have seemed impossible. I am immensely proud of the group and would like to say a huge thank you to the hundreds of students, staff, parents, OC’s and friends who came to support us. It has been a very special few days and months to have been a part of”.