- Dulwich College looking to retain Daily Mail RBS crown
- Head coach Howard confident of big-game experience benefits
Photo: Scrumpix Photography
Dulwich College aim to join a select band of schools to have retained the Daily Mail RBS Schools Under 18 Cup when they take on Northampton School for Boys at Twickenham Stadium on Saturday (March 23, 3.40pm).
And the Dulwich head coach Sam Howard believes they will be boosted by the experience gained by nine players in this week’s squad who were on duty for the 15-8 win over Old Swinford Hospital School in last season’s final.
“I think that previous experience of Twickenham can only be a benefit,” said Howard, who played Premiership rugby for Bedford as a fly half, and was the captain of the Dulwich first XV in 1995 that included two future England international forwards in Nick Easter and Andrew Sheridan.
“Five of this week’s team started the match last year, and another four of them were on the bench although none of them got to play.
“Knowing what to expect in the 48 hours leading up to the match – going to Twickenham, having the photos taken, staying at the hotel overnight – will be a help for those who have done it before.
“A few of our boys last year may have been overawed and didn’t have the greatest of games.”
One of the returning players is centre Dom Fraser, whose two penalties were decisive in the 11-5 semi-final win over Hampton School at Broadstreet RFC earlier this month.
Fraser kicked all Dulwich’s points in the 2012 final and now the south London school will attempt to emulate Bradford Grammar (1992 and 1993), Colston’s (1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000), Oakham (2002 and 2003) and Whitgift (2010 and 2011) in achieving back-to-back U18 Cup final victories.
The whole squad is fit and available for selection, and positions can be variable in schools rugby, with Easter in his Dulwich days alongside Howard turning out in the second row before finding fame at No.8 and a 16-year-old Sheridan at No.8 before his Test service as a loose-head prop.
So it is with the current Dulwich College crop, with England U17 prop ‘Big Josh’ Ibuanokpe set to start at No.8 on Saturday while the prop positions are occupied by regular try scorer Beno Obano and Jeremy Reason.
“Josh is such a good ball carrier, who can really shift from the base of the scrum – a big boy who is still only in the Lower Sixth,” Howard said of the Harlequins academy youngster.
All four of Saturday’s Daily Mail RBS Schools' finals will be streamed live on RFU.com.
How they got there
Dulwich College in the Daily Mail RBS Schools' U18 Cup:
10/10/2012 Dulwich College 40 Dartford GS 0
7/11/2012 Eltham College 14 Dulwich College 28
21/11/2012 Dulwich College 27 The Judd School 0
5/12/2012 Dulwich College 18 Hurstpierpoint College 5
16/1/2013 King's College School, Wimbledon 5 Dulwich College 19
30/1/2013 Dulwich College 20 Sherborne School 10
2/3/2013 Dulwich College 11 Hampton School 5 (semi-final)
Daily Mail RBS Schools' Finals Day, Twickenham Stadium, Saturday, March 23. Broadcast live on RFU.com:
U15 Vase, Felsted School v Royal Latin School – 11am
U15 Cup, Warwick School v QEGS Wakefield – 12.30pm
U18 Vase, Felsted School v Yarm School – 2pm
U18 Cup, Dulwich College v Northampton School for Boys – 3.40pm
The following information is relevant for those travelling to Twickenham for the Daily Mail RBS Schools' Day Finals on March 23. Due to engineering works there are no South West trains using Richmond or Twickenham stations this weekend. The mainline trains will terminate at Barnes and Feltham and be replaced by a shuttle bus service, which will service the Twickenham area.
The mainline train service into Kingston is unaffected.
There are London Underground services into Richmond (District Line) and Hounslow (Piccadilly Line) and the London Overground from North London and Stratford will be running as normal into Richmond.
For further information on disruptions and services available, please visit the South West Trains and Transport for London websites.