- Malpas team have shocked themselves
- Now Twickenham beckons for U15 'unknowns'
Bishop Heber High School in Malpas, Cheshire has never made much of an impact in the Daily Mail RBS Schools Cup competition. Until now.
The norm is an early entry into the Vase section for first-round losers in the Cup, followed by early exit from there, and before the start of this season’s competition, nothing much had happened to suggest that the norm might be about to change.
But change it has – and in spectacular fashion. Now Bishop Heber Under 15s are already through to the semi-finals of the Under 15 Cup, just one win away from an outing at Twickenham on Daily Mail RBS Finals Day on March 23 and they have been rubbing shoulders of late with Lancaster RGS, Bradford Grammar and St Paul’s School, Barnes – schools from a different rugby universe.
For coach Noel Speed, the whole experience is surreal, hugely enjoyable, but hard to explain.
“We’ve never done anything before,” he says. “But this year we have a decent group who’ve suddenly come together and been superb. When they started out at Under 11 they showed promise, then they fell away completely for a couple of years and did nothing, and now we’ve managed to pull them back together and with two or three Under 14s playing up a year, they’ve got themselves sorted out.
“When we had Twickenham on the phone wanting background info for the semi-final programme, they wanted to know what we’d won, to which the answer was: ‘Err… nothing’.
“This group has always had potential, but they’ve only just realised it. It’s all come together in the last few months. The success has shocked us all, both as a school and as a PE department.
“The whole school is buzzing and we had everyone down watching against St Paul’s... sixth formers with no previous interest in rugby, the staff, people from the town. The whole adventure has just got bigger and bigger. It’s amazing.
“We’ve come across people like RGS, Bradford Grammar and St Paul’s who are completely out of our world. We’d never ever get a game with them in normal circumstances. We should be completely out of our depth at this level, but we’re in the semis. Scary.”
Closer examination of the Bishop’s squad, however, almost inevitably reveals a core of above-average talent which hints at how a 17-3 quarter-final win might be achieved. Back-row twins Ben and Tom Curry are both at Sale Academy, as is hooker Luke Huxley, while centre and captain George Shaw is developing his skills with Warrington Wolves RL club.
“These lads are very good players, but the key to our success has been the fact that it has been a complete collective effort in which all the lads have made a strong contribution,” said a slightly shell-shocked Speed.
“We can’t quite believe that we have people now ringing to ask about booking buses and numbers travelling to the semis in Coventry and all the other bits and pieces. We’re completely out of our depth really with no idea.
“With people from the town, the staff, parents and half the school watching against St Paul’s, the atmosphere was fantastic, something we could never imagine. It’s just a marvellous adventure and we’re all loving it.”
The semi-final draw will be made on Monday, February 11, 2013.
Scores and pairings: U15 Cup:
Bishop Heber 17 St Pauls 3
Bromsgrove 13 RGS High Wycombe 3
London Oratory v QEGS Wakefield (Thursday, February 7)
Warwick v Wellington College
All the Daily Mail RBS Schools semi finals will once again be held at Broadstreet RFC, the dates and KO times for the relevant competitions being:
U18 Cup – March 2, 2013 (match 1 – 11am / match 2 – 1pm)
U18 Vase – March 3, 2013 (match 1 – 11am / match 2 – 1pm)
U15 Cup – March 9, 2013 (match 1 – 11am / match 2 – 1pm)
U15 Vase – March 10, 2013 (match 1 – 11am / match 2 – 1pm)
Admission will be £3 for adults and £1 for juniors. The matches will also be streamed live on RFU.com