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As reigning champions, the U18 rugby team open the defence of their Under 18 Natwest Vase title when we welcome Loughborough Endowed Schools to the school tomorrow (Thursday 14 September).
The U18s lifted the Vase for the second time in four years at Twickenham in March, running six tries past Royal Latin School to claim a 43-7 victory, making Trent College the first school to win the trophy twice since it was first contested in its current guise in 2000.
No fewer than eight of our Vase-winning squad, including brothers Ben and George Dickinson who both started the final, will feature once again this year. Meanwhile Harry Finney, younger brother of last season’s trophy lifting fly-half, George, also steps up to the U18s and flanker Ethan Benstead takes over the mantle of First XV captain for the new season.
But, Loughborough Endowed Schools will provide a tough test. When the teams met last season the U18s ran out narrow 10-7 winners, and with a good pre-season behind them the Leicestershire school will be keen to stop us, their East Midlands rivals, at the first Vase hurdle.
Steve McGinnis, our Head Coach, said: “Retaining eight of last year’s squad certainly helps, but it’s no guarantee of success. This is a new group and a new challenge that starts against Loughborough.
“We have moved on from last year’s success and focussed straight away on moulding this group of talented players. We have a strong group that will want to drive and compete for each other, raise standards across the board and get it right from the start.
“They do have it all to prove after last year, but are a new animal and need to find their own way. I’m confident they can do this and have the potential to go all the way. But, and it’s the old cliché, we can only take it one game at a time.”
The Natwest Cup and Vase is the biggest schools rugby tournament in the world, with over 1,000 entries in the U18 and U15 competitions from across England, Wales and the Isle of Man. It has served as a springboard to launch the careers of some of England and the British Lions' biggest stars including Manu Tuilagi, Anthony Watson, Chris Robshaw, Danny Care, James Haskell, Courtney Lawes, Tom Croft and Elliot Daly.
Loughborough Endowed Schools also stand in front of our U15 team and round two of their 2017-18 Natwest Cup quest, with the two going head-to-head in Long Eaton next Tuesday (19 September).
We last met Loughborough Endowed Schools in the Natwest Cup in 2014-2015 where we ran out 29-0 winners in our fourth round encounter, but it was Loughborough who had the edge last season securing a 21-10 victory so there will be all to play for next week.