- Kent school’s former pupils add to titles of 1997, 1998 and 2007
- Almost 600 returning players gather for festival in Richmond
Tonbridge won the Cronk Cunis National Under 21 Rugby Festival for a record-equalling fourth time at the Richmond Athletic Ground last Monday (August 27).
Tonbridge defeated first time entrants Magdalen College School from Oxford 15-0 in the cup final at the end of an action-packed day when a total of 54 half-hour matches were played by 26 teams, all of them former pupils of some of the country’s leading rugby playing schools from both the state and independent sectors.
The Kent school’s former pupils fourth title brings them level with Wellington College who won in successive years from 2000 to 2003. In contrast Tonbridge won the first two competitions in 1997 and 1998, before securing a third title in 2007.
Tonbridge battled their way through a tough draw, with close fought victories over Hampton, Brighton College and St Benedict’s Ealing – all previous winners of the competition – before they defeated last year’s beaten finalists Whitgift in the semi final.
Magdalen College School, Oxford, had also performed magnificently to reach the final, knocking out defending champions Peter Symonds College from Winchester in the last four.
Almost 600 players overall took part in the festival’s four competitions – Cup, Plate, Bowl and Vase – and the standard of rugby was outstanding.
Teams came from as far afield as Taunton (King’s College), Monmouth and Norwich for the festival in its 16th year which – in addition to competitive rugby – provides a good opportunity for players to meet up with old school friends and maintain the social traditions that are so much a part of rugby.
The Cup was presented to Tonbridge captain Henry Johnstone by RFU President Paul Murphy, who continued the impressive record of recent RFU Presidents in attending this prestigious national event.
In presenting the trophies, Mr Murphy praised the organisation of the festival and the important place it holds both in the annual rugby calendar and as a link between school and adult club rugby.
“This Festival has been a timely reminder of just how much enjoyment is had in playing rugby with old school friends,” he said.
“With so many activities and commitments vying for their time, it is essential that we keep this 18 to Under 21 age group involved in rugby union and I am most grateful for the contribution to this cause that continues to be made by the Cronk-Cunis National Festival.”
Cronk-Cunis National Under 21 Festival Results
Winners: Tonbridge, Runners-up: Magdalen College School , 15-0.
Winners: Wallington County GS, Runners-up: John Fisher, 17-5.
Winners: Monmouth, Runners-up: Pangbourne College, 10-0.
Winners: Berkhamsted, Runners-up: Windsor Boys, 12-7.