- Manu Tuilagi heads back to John Cleveland College to reminisce about winning Schools silverware
- Leicester Tigers and England star trains with current squad and meets with former teachers
Manu Tuilagi returned to John Cleveland College today to mark the launch of the NatWest Schools Cup and to reminisce about lifting the U18 Schools Vase at Twickenham in 2009.
That was his centre first experience of the HQ's hallowed turf, but securing silverware was no easy task as John Cleveland, from Hinckley in Leicestershire, had to battle back from a 12-6 half-time deficit against a strong Hampton School outfit.
However, to a young Manu’s delight, his side eventually ran out 23-15 winners.
Tuilagi – a member of the England Under 18 squad at the time – showed glimpses of his exceptional talent over the course of the contest.
First, a strong second-half run served as a warning to John Celeveland’s opponents, forcing play into Hampton's 22.
Then, with his team in front for the first time, he crossed the whitewash himself – sprinting on to a cross-kick, taking the ball on the bounce and racing away from his opposite number. There was even later a try-saving tackle later on in the final to cap a superb individual performance.
Since then, the Leicester Tigers and England centre has made multiple headlines, even starring with the British and Irish Lions in Australia this summer. That day in 2009 still shines in the memory, though.
With NatWest the new official title partner of the RFU’s premier schools competition – christening the tournament the NatWest Schools Cup – Tuilagi went back to John Cleveland College to meet with former teachers and train with this year’s squad.