Cranleigh won the 30th Annual St Joseph’s Festival in dramatic circumstances, in what was only their second ever appearance at the tournament.
They drew 10-10 with Brighton College in the final in front of a packed out crowd. Confusion reigned at the end, with most people’s knowledge of the tournament’s rules taking them only so far as to know that the side with the most tries would win, as extra time is not possible due to limits on school players’ playing time in a single day.
However the two sides had each scored a try each in the final, Cranleigh having taken a 10-0 lead into half time following a penalty and a converted try from a move at the back of the lineout, before Brighton College then scored a try through a well worked backs move in the second half and followed it up with a late Jon Searle penalty to draw level.
What that meant come the final whistle was that it would in fact be the side that scored first in the final that would lift the De La Salle Trophy, and that first half try from a shifted maul move gave Cranleigh that honour.
It is quite an achievement for the Surrey school, how are now able to call themselves both the St Joseph’s Festival champions and the Rosslyn Park HSBC National School 7s champions after they won the Open there at the first attempt last year.
Brighton College, however, will travel home with a knot in their stomach’s after playing arguably the best rugby across the entire weekend. Their performance against Millfield in what was effectively the semi final was probably the performance of the weekend.
There was some small comfort for Brighton College though, whose fly half and captain, Marcus Smith, was named the Player of the Tournament, a year after finishing as runner-up to Hampton’s Roman Malin-Hiscock last year.
Smith was a revelation all weekend, playing some sublime running rugby throughout, and bringing a kicking game beyond his year’s to the table too.
Malin-Hiscock was of course part of the victorious Hampton School side last year, who were also first time winners. They fell a little short of their expectations yesterday, ending up in the Plate competition, but rallied brilliantly on Sunday to claim the Plate title after beating the hosts, St Joseph’s College, 13-0 in the final. To come home with two trophies in a row from this incredibly tough tournament is always a special achievement, regardless of the colour.
Over in the main competition Brighton College sailed to the final unbeaten, indeed they were unbeaten all weekend. Cranleigh also got there having gone through the Cup stage unbeaten, though they lost to Millfield on the opening day, but the nature of their group meant things were a bit more open in the final round of group games.
A win for Cranleigh over Denstone was good enough for them to automatically qualify, and they did so in style with a 39-5 win, but up until then QEGS Wakefield and Merchiston Castle, two unsung heroes of the tournament, were still in it.
QEGS unsung nature was rewarded with a bit of style at the end of the day though as their flanker Aiden Kelly was awarded the Try of the Tournament, where he will sit alongside some pretty famous names, such a as Christian Wade.
The story of the entire Festival was without doubt the Cup final though, where Cranleigh and Brighton College put on a spectacular show, befitting of being the two top teams on the day.
It was a brutal final, with plenty of blood spilt in pursuit of victory. That it ended as a draw was a shame, leaving Brighton with a bitter pill to swallow and Cranleigh with a slightly hollower victory than they might have ideally liked.
Nevertheless though, both sides should be proud, their rugby was outstanding throughout and the spirit and determination shown the final outstanding. Brighton College will recover and prove to be one of the best sides in the country this term, while Cranleigh will surely also go on to even heights as well this term.
To travel home as both the Rosslyn Park and St Joseph’s Champions is an achievement that few teams can rival. It shows their abilities across all formats and styles of the game.
Hats off too to St Joseph’s for putting together yet another fantastic Festival, but the final word must go to Cranleigh, St Joseph’s Festival Champions at only the second time of asking. Oustanding.
St Joseph’s Festival De La Salle Cup Winners – Cranleigh
St Joseph’s Festival Plate Winners – Hampton
|St Joseph’s Festival Day 2 Groups – Final Standings|
|Group A (Cup)||Group B (Cup)||Group W (Plate)||Group X (Plate)|
|Brighton College||Cranleigh||Hampton||St Joseph’s College|
|Millfield||Merchiston Castle||RGS Newcastle||Whitchurch HS|
|Dulwich College||QEGS Wakefield||Eltham College||John Fisher|
|RGS HW||Denstone College||Gordon’s||St Peter’s|
|St Joseph’s Festival – Day 2 Results|
|Time||Pitch 1||Pitch 2|
|08.30||RGS Newcastle 18-0 Eltham||Hampton 40-0 Gordon’s|
|09.05||Millfield 24-0 Dulwich College||Brighton College 7-3 RGSHW|
|09.40||Whitchurch 7-18 St Peter’s||St Joseph’s 16-0 John Fisher|
|10.15||Merchiston 15-0 Denstone||QEGS Wakefield 0-7 Cranleigh|
|10.50||Gordon’s 0-29 RGS Newcastle||Hampton 26-0 Eltham College|
|11.25||Millfield 27-0 RGSHW||Dulwich 10-19 Brighton College|
|12.00||Whitchurch 5-0 John Fisher||St Joseph’s 12-0 St Peter’s|
|12.35||Cranleigh 12-0 Merchiston||QEGS 35-7 Denstone College|
|13.10||RGS Newcastle 7-14 Hampton||Eltham College 12-5 Gordon’s|
|13.45||Brighton College 14-5 Millfield||RGSHW 5-19 Dulwich College|
|14.20||Whitchurch 5-5 St Joseph’s||John Fisher 15-14 St Peter’s|
|14.55||QEGS 10-19 Merchiston||Cranleigh 39-5 Denstone College|
|15.30||Plate Final – Hampton 13-0 St Joseph’s College|
|16.15||Trophy Final – Brighton College 10-10 Cranleigh (Cranleigh win as 1st try scorers)|
|St Joseph’s Festival Day 1 Groups – Final Standings|
|Pos||Group 1||Group 2||Group 3||Group 4|
|1||Millfield (Q)||Brighton College (Q)||Merchiston Castle (Q)||QEGS Wakefield (Q)|
|2||Cranleigh (q)||Denstone College (q)||RGS High Wycombe (q)||Dulwich College (q)|
|3||RGS Newcastle||Hampton||Whitchurch High School||St Joseph’s College|
|4||John Fisher||St Peter’s, Gloucester||Gordon’s||Eltham College|
|St Joseph’s Festival – Day 1 Results|
|Time||Pitch 1||Pitch 2|
|09.00||Millfield 19-3 RGS Newcastle||Cranleigh 25-5 John Fisher|
|09.40||Hampton 7-8 St Peter’s||Denstone 3-38 Brighton|
|10.20||RGS High Wycombe 18-6 Gordon’s||Whitchurch 10-20 Merchiston|
|11.00||Dulwich 8-12 Eltham||QEGS 13-7 St Joseph’s|
|11.40||Millfield 17-9 John Fisher||Cranleigh 27-0 RGS Newcastle|
|12.20||Hampton 7-5 Denstone||St Peter’’s 0-40 Brighton|
|13.00||RGS HW 18-5 Whitchurch||Gordon’s 0-36 Merchiston|
|13.40||Dulwich 10-15 QEGS||Eltham 3-10 St Joseph’s|
|14.20||Millfield 11-7 Cranleigh||John Fisher 8-9 RGS Newcastle|
|15.00||Brighton 12-7 Hampton||St Peter’s 7-15 Denstone|
|15.40||Merchiston 12-6 RGS HS||Whitchurch 24-0 Gordon’s|
|16.20||St Joseph’s 7-26 Dulwich||QEGS 38-0 Eltham|