- Yorkshire Cup final test’s coaches nerves
- But Leeds contingent safely through
Owen Edwards, coach to the Grammar School at Leeds Under 15 RU team, will be travelling to Twickenham tomorrow for the Daily Mail RBS Under 15 Cup final against RGS High Wycombe with the most nerve-wracking game of the campaign already behind him.
That came yesterday when a bulk of his squad played for West Park Leeds and Harrogate in the final of the Yorkshire Under 15 Cup, a game won 34-5 by West Park, who had the bulk of the Leeds Grammar contingent in their ranks.
Happily for the watching former Cambridge Blue, who he has also represented Otley, Wakefield and Ballymena, all his players came through unscathed and will be heading for Twickenham and, in many cases, a tilt at a Cup double in four days.
“We were a bit nervous – Leeds v Harrogate takes in about 15 of our kids – but everyone got through OK,” says Edwards. “We still have scrum-half Jack London and lock Charles Etchells ruled out with injuries, but our Yorkshire fly-half Harrison Brownlaw is fit again after breaking his thumb and returns.
Preparations for the final have been relatively low-key, with Edwards believing that all the hard work done during the season and in the build-up to the Trinity Semi-final has given the side a core of organisation and method which simply needs to be tweaked and polished as the team tapers towards Twickenham.
“We did some work with the Leeds Rhinos Under 18 squad and a couple of players came up from Leeds Tykes ahead of the semi-final, but since then we’ve tried to keep the lads fresh and injury free,” says Edwards.
“There’s a really good buzz about the school and we have around 400 supporting travelling down on Wednesday morning at 5.45am. It should be a lovely way to end the term and we’re all looking forward to it.”
Leeds have been producing quality displays for three unbeaten years, but their ability to hit the high notes at the crucial moment has been the key to their appearance at Twickenham.
Edwards believes that while his team have turned in some outstanding displays this season, wins in the Quarter-finals and Semi-finals were the pick, coming as they did amidst all the pressure which comes with having a Twickenham outing within touching distance.
“They’ve been outstanding all season – 100% on it all the time. They’ve trained really hard and I can’t fault them in any way. We’ve worked hard and put a lot of hours into our training and it’s paid dividends.
“They all know what they should be doing and against Trinity in the Semi-final, all 22 deserved to be ‘Man of the Match’ as everyone played their part and trusted each other, which resulted in the performance of the season.
“This was the toughest game that we have played to date, with everyone defending well and taking the chances when they arose.”
Having scored 848 points and conceded just 77, the team ethic and strength in depth is underlined by the fact that the tries have been shared between 21 different players.
While the team ethic is the key to success, the Leeds cause is not harmed by the presence of full back Tom Gorman. He is a potent striker with bags of pace and put that to good use with a hat-trick of tries against Whitgift and another against Trinity.
With nine Yorkshire county players in their ranks, this is a team with real pedigree and as the only team from the North to have made it to the Daily Mail RBS Schools showpiece, the region will be well represented.