The U18 Schools Plate final at Sixways Stadium on Tuesday will see Trinity and Woodhouse Grove meet for the 4pm kick off.
Neither side has won national knockout fifteen-a-side silverware at U18 level before, but one will come away with some early on Tuesday evening.
Woodhouse Grove have some experience though, as a school, back in 2007 they claimed the U15 Vase, but that will be a distant memory now, what will be less distant though is the memory of their 2013 Daily Mail Trophy league triumph. For Trinity, this is the furthest they have ever gone, although they have had some wonderful sides, not least the one of a couple of years ago featuring Harlequins’ Gabriel Ibitoye.
Trinity came oh so close to never being in this Plate final, they lost by a mere four points in the Cup first round, 14-10, to an Eltham College side that went on to have a cracking Cup run.
Since then though Trinity have had an excellent Plate run. Until the semi final they had not scored fewer than thirty points in the any game in the competition, their crowning glory being the 41-16 defeat of New Hall in the quarter final.
Though they may have scored fewer points in the semi final, it was arguably their best performance. Certainly it was their best defensive performance, conceding just five points to a St Ambrose College side that has enjoyed a very good season. They would have taken every bit as much satisfaction from that 21-5 win as they would from the 41-16 win the round previously.
Woodhouse Grove’s strength is perhaps best demonstrated by who they went out to and how in the Cup first round. They had a horrible draw, facing a very strong St Peter’s York side in what was probably the toughest first round draw of the competition. That they, and indeed Trinity, are in this final proves exactly why this competition exists, to give those that were handed a brutal first round Cup draw a chance to demonstrate their quality and enjoy a strong knockout run.
They only lost that game narrowly, 27-20, but it is what St Peter’s did a couple of rounds later than serves to demonstrate Woodhouse Grove’s quality. They drew 27-27 with QEGS Wakefield, going out because they were the home side, from there QEGS have gone on to reach the Cup final at Twickenham. That is how good St Peter’s are, and how close to them Woodhouse Grove are.
It has been a bit of a weird Plate run for Woodhouse Grove though, it started off with an excellent 50-0 win over Dame Allan’s, but they then had byes right the way through to the national stages of the competition.
Once in the national stages though, they were able to show their quality, beating Uppingham 22-7 in the quarters before a quite brilliant 43-5 semi final win over former U18 Cup winners, St Peter’s Gloucester.
There is no doubt that both of these sides could have enjoyed strong Cup runs had they had a more favourable opening round draw, which makes Tuesday’s Plate final both a fitting one and also a hugely exciting and high quality one.
It ought to be a fantastic game of rugby, providing these two excellent sides with a fantastic chance at silverware and a deserved day out at the magnificent facility that is Sixways Stadium.
U18 Schools Plate Final – Tuesday 13th March, 4pm, Sixways Stadium
Trinity v Woodhouse Grove
Route to the Final
Trinity (London & South East B)
21-5 v St Ambrose College – Semi Final
41-16 v New Hall – Quarter Final
38-31 v Peter Symonds’ – Last 16
33-8 v Sir Joseph Williamson’s – Round 2
32-12 v Duke of York’s RMS – Round 1
Lost 10-14 v Eltham College – Cup Round 1
Woodhouse Grove (North B)
43-5 v St Peter’s, Gloucester – Semi Final
22-7 v Uppingham – Quarter Final
Bye – Last 16
Bye – Round 2
50-0 v Dame Allan’s – Round 1
Lost 20-27 v St Peter’s, York – Cup Round 1
Trinity – 2018 Best Performance
Woodhouse Grove – 2007 U15 Vase Champions.