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Rugby World - - LIFE IN PICTURES -

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

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