Wellington College and Rugby School will go head to head in the 2019 Champions Trophy final on Wednesday lunchtime at Allianz Park.
The 12.30pm kick off sees two of the very best teams in all of schools rugby going head to head in the showpiece final of the RFU’s school competitions roster with both sides looking to create a little bit of history.
Wellington College are aiming to become the first side ever to win this tournament twice, and it would be back to back having won last year’s tournament, while Rugby School are aiming to win it at the first attempt. In doing so they would become just the 6th winners, joining an elite club of Millfield, Bedford, Tonbridge, Dulwich College and, of course, Wellington College.
The game will be live on FreeSports, which is channel 422 on Sky, 64 on Freeview, and 553 on Virgin Media, and will also be live streamed – you can watch that stream below.
For Wellington College this game offers more than just the chance to become the first side to win this tournament twice, it offers the chance to secure a history-making season. Back in October they already made a little bit of history by securing the St Joseph’s Festival title in their first appearance in over a decade. In doing so they became the first side in schools rugby history ever to have at some point won the St Joseph’s Festival, Champions Trophy, Schools Cup, Daily Mail Trophy, and Rosslyn Park HSBC National School 7s.
Their only defeat of the season so far came last week to an outstanding Sedbergh side that are chasing a hat-trick of Daily Mail Trophy titles. However despite that defeat Wellington College are still in the hunt for that title, so not only would victory on Wednesday make Champions Trophy history, it would make them only the second side ever to win the St Joseph’s Festival and Champions Trophy in one year, and would open the door to adding the Daily Mail Trophy, securing a never before seen treble that would mark them out as one of the very greatest sides in schools rugby history.
That is the quality of side and the size of the challenge that faces Rugby School, yet they too are an almighty schools rugby side. Only twice have they seen defeat this season, in tight games against Warwick and Bromsgrove. Their opening six games of the season were won in an absolute flurry of points and tries. Since then things have tightened up, and that has opened the door for them to show their never say die mentality, a mentality that took them to this final.
In the semi final Hampton had scored a late try that looked to have secured them a place in the final. Yet Rugby never gave up, with time ticking away they continued to play. With the clock in the red they set up a maul and slowly rumbled over to claim victory and a place in the final at the death.
That is the mentality that they will bring to this final, a mentality shaped by three England U18 players in their forward pack, Robin Hardwick, Ben Muncaster, and Emeka Ilione, and guided by their superb fly half Jack Hughes.
Ilione was one of the England U18 captains in their summer tour of South Africa, as was Wellington College’s skipper Fin Baxter.
Baxter’s leadership and ball-carrying has been key to Wellington College’s form this year, and alongside the likes of Marcus Rhodes, Ted Johnson, and Ben Murrin his power has consistently got his side on the front foot.
The battle between those packs will be vital on Wednesday, but so will the battle out wide. If Hughes and Wellington’s Monty Bradbury can release the talent outside of them effectively, we could be in for a truly thrilling final.
In many ways this is perhaps the biggest final in the Champions Trophy’s short history, Wellington College, one of the greatest rugby schools that there is against the Rugby School, the founders of the game nearly 200 years ago. Allianz Park is going to play host to one of the great schools rugby occasions.
Champions Trophy Final:
Wellington College v Rugby (Wednesday, 12.30pm, Live on FreeSports – Channel 422 on Sky, 64 on Freeview, 553 on Virgin Media)
Champions Trophy Semi Finals:
Epsom College 24-41 Wellington College
Rugby 22-19 Hampton
Champions Trophy Quarter Finals:
Blundell’s 0-20 Epsom College
Hampton 27-7 Uppingham
Rugby 13-8 Oakham
Wellington College 12-6 Dulwich College
Champions Trophy Round 2:
Rugby 45-0 RGS Guildford
St Paul’s 6-15 Blundell’s
Oakham 25-19 Clifton College
Berkhamsted 0-38 Hampton
Hurstpierpoint College 19-20 Uppingham
Kingswood 26-56 Wellington College
Epsom College 31-12 Bristol Grammar
Dulwich College 24-13 St John’s, Leatherhead
Champions Trophy Round 1:
Bedford 7-66 Rugby
Clifton College 24-18 Monmouth
Hampton 24-15 Tonbridge
RGS Guildford 17-3 Bryanston
St Paul’s v BYE
Oakham v BYE
Berkhamsted v BYE
Hurstpierpoint College v BYE
Bristol GS v BYE
Kingswood v BYE
Blundell’s v BYE
St John’s, Leatherhead v BYE
Epsom College v BYE
Dulwich College v BYE
Uppingham v BYE
Wellington College v BYE