Old Swinford Hospital beat St Olave’s Grammar School 25-13 to win the U18 NatWest Bowl Final at Sixways Stadium on 28 March 2017
The Stourbridge school renowned, among other things for its rugby prowess, qualified for the National Final at Sixways Stadium following a number of tough games, defeating teams in Gloucester, Sussex and Surrey. The final felt more like a home game for OSH as many of the players have connections with Worcester Warriors through their EPDG outreach programme.
A huge number of travelling supporters including current and former pupils, staff and parents turned out to cheer the boys to victory. Worcester Warriors players (and former OSH students) Chris Pennell, Sam Ripper-Smith, Max Stelling and Huw Taylor supported from the stands. Chris Pennell, who captained the OSH 1st XV in 2004 before joining the Warriors, presented the boys with their match jerseys prior to kick off.
OSH had taken an early 13-0 lead into the half time break thanks to two penalties from fly half James Westwood and tries from inside centre Benny Trimmer and full back Sam Hughes, who finished magnificently following a good period of ball retention from the pack.
After the break St Olave’s staged a magnificent second half comeback, but it was OSH who scored first with hooker Tobi Costello crashing over from a drive set up in midfield. A few minutes later OSH had a try disallowed when wing Charles Hilliard was judged to have been held up over the line. St Olave’s capitalised on an OSH mistake and scored with a well worked try through the backs. At 18-5 there seemed a momentous shift. OSH centre Hugh Peel was sent to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle and St Olave’s closed the gap to 18-13. On Peel’s return to play, OSH lost scrum half Finn Bridgewater who was sin binned for a ruck infringement. With St Olave’s playing against 14 men they scored again and kicked a penalty in the last five minutes to bring the game to 18-13.
The OSH players rallied and were magnificent. Taking the ball directly from a kick off and just as the rain began to fall at Sixways, they pinned St Olave’s on their own goal line. Then followed a moment of brilliance from back row Jolby Beech, interlinking with the outstanding full back Charlie Simmonds, presenting quick ball which replacement prop Charles Fraser had no hesitation in picking up and smashing through St Olave’s defence to take the game beyond doubt.
OSH 1st XV coach, Mr A Coalter, was delighted with the performance and said "It is no more than the boys deserve after a season of hard work and dedication. We have come close in the past. In 2012 we finished runners up in the cup at Twickenham and the first message of congratulations we had was from the captain on that day Edward Taylor who now plays for Bedford Blues in the Championship.
We have a tough fixture list which prepares us well for playing this type of pressure rugby and I must give full credit to all our players, many of whom are local lads who have come to us in the Sixth Form to continue their rugby development. It is a massive achievement for them.”
Sam Hughes, Charles Hilliard, Jon Baylie (capt), Benny Trimmer, Charlie Simmonds; James Westwood, Finn Bridgewater, Billy Woodman, Tobi Costello, Harry Ridge, Jasper Smith, Sean Riley, Douglas Bridge, Dylan de Sousa, Jolby Beech.
Substitutes: Joe Brennan, Charles Fraser, Harry Wooldridge, Archie Wootton, Christian Fellows, Hugh Peel, James Taylor.
Tries: Trimmer, Hughes, Costello, Fraser. Conversion: Westwood. Penalty goal: Westwood.