Club rugby get in touch
JOEL HODGSON and Fraser Balmain were stars of the RGS Newcastle team that reached the 2010 Daily Mail Cup final. Now the school has a side every bit as accomplished – as their feats at the St Joseph’s College Festival proved.
Handed a deadly pool, RGS Newcastle weren’t expected to progress. Instead, by Saturday night they were the talk of the tournament having beaten holders Brighton College 15-3, red-hot Hampton 23-5 and powerful St Peter’s, York 15-10.
“Being from the North, teams didn’t know much about us,” admits RGS’s head coach Andy Watt.
A little knowledge can be dangerous. Aware of England U18 centre Chidera Obonna, sides tried to close down his space, so RGS exploited what Watt calls “probably the best pack we’ve had in my time”. He adds: “We’ve got a whole bunch of Falcons Academy forwards and they were able to carry ball and get over the gain-line. Our ten, James Blackett, controlled the games and kicked 50-odd points over the weekend. He had about a 90% kick ratio, which was huge for us.”
With 12 of the starting XV having appeared last year, familiarity with the two-day condensed format – games are 15 minutes each way – was not an issue. Sunday saw RGS outmuscle Denstone 10-8, Hurstpierpoint 6-0 and Merchiston 23-0 to reach the final, where two tries by Toby Peach – one from a 20-metre maul – saw RGS account for Millfield 17-9. They’re the first northern school to win the trophy since QEGS Wakefield in 1997.
Obonna and tighthead Phil Brantingham are among those surely destined for pro rugby should they so choose, but for now Watt is relishing striking a blow for a region not renowned as a rugby hotbed.
“We love flying the flag for the North-East. There’s a lot of camaraderie here and we received messages of congratulations from all the northern schools on our circuit. That was delightful. It was really, really special.”
As are the RGS Newcastle boys, our October Team of the Month. If you think your side deserves to be our next winner, email [email protected]dia.com to tell us why. Please include November results and a high-res photo(s). Email stories and pics to Clubs Editor Michael Austin at [email protected] or call 01400 282189. Team of the Month entries to [email protected]dia.com
Northern lights RGS celebrate their St Joseph’s triumph
Deadeye kickerJames Blackett