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Trent College returns to NatWest Schools Cup action this week with the eyes of the Under 18s and Under 15s firmly on the prize of a Twickenham final.
After a bye into round two, the U18s kick off their Cup campaign at home to Kings School, Grantham today (Tuesday 13 October) before the U15s start their cup assault at the round three stage at home to Leicester Grammar School on Thursday.
The NatWest Schools Cup is the premier tournament in schools rugby - all schools that enter play for a main Cup, while teams knocked out in the early rounds go into the Vase competition. 1,000 teams at U15 and U18 level enter the tournament. This means than even if Trent College’s teams do experience an early season Cup exit, their Twickenham dreams are not over as the Vase offers another lifeline.
It was the U18 Natwest Vase trophy that Trent College lifted at the home of English rugby on a momentous day in 2013-2014, and this year’s team has the experience of a number of cool heads who played in that final including James Benstead, Greg Fieldhouse and Gabriel Calland, who were all under 16 when they featured in the Vase win.
Combined with Arjun Nath and Chis Crick also returning from last year’s first XV and along with the addition of Andrew Brown, part of the RFU Midlands Divisional squad last year, the Trent College squad is looking balanced and exciting.
Steve McGinnis, Head of Rugby at Trent College, said: “NatWest Cup matches are always a special occasion anyway, and being at home allows the team to play with confidence and express themselves even more.
“They are playing an exciting brand of rugby that allows the boys to show how far they have come. If they can maintain patience and control and play in the right areas of the field it will allow us to perform and get the win. If we can do that it will give them confidence to push further in to the competition.”
The U15s face a tough Cup opener against Leicester Grammar School, who knocked out last season’s U15 Vase finalists, Oakham, in the last round.
Injuries to six of the starting U15s XV have seen Trent College’s season get off to an indifferent start but the return of Tom Crick last week brought some good news while Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Derbyshire (NLD) RFU U16s stalwart, Ben Dickinson, is a real handful in the centre.
Adam Benstead, Director of Sport at Trent College and U15s lead coach, said: “We have had a shaky start but are building towards some better play at the minute. If we can pull out a performance on Thursday we’ll have a chance. Playing at home should also give us some confidence. A win will be a huge confidence boost but they will need all members of the squad to step up the mark and show their true ability.”
A host of England and British Lions stars have played in the NatWest Schools' Cup including England captain Chris Robshaw, scrum-half Danny Care and centre Manu Tuilagi.
There are six Cup qualifying rounds for the U18s and seven for the U15s before the knockout rounds next spring. NatWest Schools Finals Day, which will feature the finals of the U18 Cup, U18 Vase, U15 Cup and U15 Vase, will be played at Twickenham Stadium on Wednesday 16 March 2016.