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NatWest Schools U15 Vase final preview: Graveney v Altrincham

20 March 2014

  • Graveney School and Altrincham Grammar School For Boys ready for historic fixture 
  • Watch all of the finals streamed live on 
Graveney School U15s

Photo: Capture the Event

The 2014 NatWest Schools U15 Vase final will see two state schools go head to head as Graveney School take on Altrincham Grammar School For Boys.

South London school Graveney have definitely had a season to remember. For a school without their own rugby pitch they have punched well above their weight, and have reached the final in style with their fast, attractive brand of running rugby.

The early promise of their run in the Cup saw them beat Sutton Grammar School (69-12, first round) and Tiffin School (28-19, second round), but was cut short when they lost narrowly to schools rugby giants Whitgift School by 26 – 29 in the third round. Their path in the Vase has included victories against Salesian College (58-5, fourth round), Licensed Victuallers School (55-22, fifth round), Duke of York’s (10-0, sixth round), London Oratory (7-5, seventh round) and Clevedon Community School (40-7, quarter-finals). They have played some exciting rugby at a scintillating pace that has proved too much for their opponents and their semi-final was no different, with a 36-7 win against St George’s College, Weybridge.

Head Coach, Stacia Long, said: “The reaction to us getting to Twickenham has been phenomenal. The boys are incredibly excited and the staff, the parents and the families are so proud!

“For many staff it was their first time watching the boys play and they couldn't believe how good they were. There is a real buzz among the parents and other pupils who are all planning their day, and the opportunity to play, coach and watch at Twickenham will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!

“We won't do anything different in preparation for this game. The way the boys played in the quarter-final and semi-final is how they play naturally – they love throwing the ball around, they run everything and they are not afraid to take risks or make mistakes.

“We will tighten up on a few areas we thought we weren't accurate enough in the semi-final but other than that we will just enjoy the build-up to the game and soak up every minute of the whole experience over the two days.

“As with all our matches, training will revolve around watching back the DVD of the game to analyse it, followed by a few team runs at lunchtimes, which can be quite restricted in full uniform on a 40m x 30m area!”

Graveney’s opponents will be Altrincham Grammar School For Boys, who secured their place in the NatWest Schools U15 Vase final by beating the holders from 2010 and local rivals, Lymm High School in their semi-final. This victory was sweet for Altrincham as they had also beaten Lymm in the first round of the Cup competition, only to go out in the second round to Cheadle Hulme, which then placed them in the Vase competition.

They soon established a winning run in the Vase, beating Bridgewater High School (48-0, third round), Sandbach School  (51-0, fourth round), King William’s College IOM (39-12, fifth round), Stockport Grammar School (31-0, sixth round) and Worksop College (50-0, seventh round), followed by an epic victory against Stowe School in the quarters played in atrocious weather conditions, winning 12-9.

Altrincham Grammar School’s Head Coach, Stephen Jelly, summed up what the day will mean: “Everybody is really excited and can’t wait until the 29th but I don’t think it has really sunk in yet. The boys were particularly thrilled to find out that we would be using the England changing room. Once again, they will feel like elite performers for the day.

“The school has reacted well. The match footage was being shown around school on the Monday after our semi-final, which highlighted the significance of the competition. The RFU have done a wonderful job with the organisation of the whole event, other sports could learn a lot from the emphasis that the RFU place on school sport.

“We’re hoping to get as many supporters down as possible, particularly as we will be playing a London school on their own patch. The early kick-off (11am) could make it a little difficult to encourage people to travel down from the north west, but I’ll be doing my best to advertise it around school.”

NatWest Schools Cup Finals Day, March 29 - free entry

U15 Vase: Altrincham Grammar School v Graveney School – 11am
U15 Cup: QEGS Wakefield v Warwick School – 12.30pm
U18 Vase: Exeter College v Trent College – 2pm
U18 Cup: Warwick School v Dulwich College – 3.40pm