In a first for Old Swinford Hospital School, two of its rugby teams have made the national finals at Twickenham.

Saturday 4th - Sunday 5th March was and extraordinary weekend for Old Swinford Hospital School (OSH) in Stourbridge! Their 1st XV and U15s rugby teams made it to the national finals of the Continental Tyres Schools U18 Schools Vase and U15 Schools Vase. They’re off to Twickenham!

On Saturday, the 1st XV took on Sutton Valence School, an independent school in Kent, and Sunday saw the U15s play Dame Allan's Schools, a Newcastle-based independent school. Both matches took place at Aylesbury RFC ground in Weston Turville with fantastic support from parents and pupils who also made the journey, and live coverage provided by England Rugby Schools.

The 1st XV were well-prepared with a tremendous season behind them. They came into the game with a real hunger and felt they had a lot to prove.

They scored their first try within just seven minutes, converted, and straight into another following a series of top-notch passes finishing with a beautiful bolt from the wingers. 

Some metronomic kicking and a little more wing-based wizardry had OSH 21-12 up by half time. OSH were then under sustained pressure with Sutton Valence on the attack; defence was strong from both sides but the OSH attack was something else.

A scrappy 15 minutes followed with OSH growing in confidence with their slick passing, resulting in a well-earned try. With the wind at their backs in the second half, there was strong running from the forwards and midfield, constant pressure on the opponents, and forwards and backs were playing in clear harmony.

A world class 50:22 kick and quickly converting territory gained, for instance, led to another OSH try.

The match ended 40-19, and OSH 1st XV gain their place in the finals at Twickenham! The final score does not reflect just how hard fought each of those points was. A physical and skilful game was played by both teams.

Onto Sunday, and it’s the U15s turn against Dame Allan’s School. Like the school’s senior team, the U15s have had a really good build up to this semi-final with a strong fixture list this season. They train in a high-intensity environment which they have emulated on the pitch with a quick game, wide passes and great flair.

Dame Allan’s started the first half much better than OSH, however. Their defensive work and counter-rucking had OSH on the back foot on a number of occasions. With a try and penalty Dame Allan’s took the edge, heading into half time 10-0.

Whatever was said to the OSH U15s at half time clearly did the trick as within minutes of the second half they scored their first try! From them on, the second half was quick turnover and transition from the OSH U15s, a massively upped work rate and real resilience.

Despite going down 17-5 early in the second half, the OSH players could sense what they could do once they started to click. OSH went on to score 17 unanswered points, getting the winning try with just five minutes left on the clock.

The 22-17 win for OSH really was edge-of-your-seat stuff with spectators cheering and social media lighting up with viewers at home too. A battle of epic proportions from both sides and huge credit to everyone on the pitch for an amazing game.

Commenting on the game, U15s Head Coach Laura Westlake says: “That was fantastic! They had a bit of a slow start in the first half, but came into the second half playing at our high speed, at our high tempo. Unbelievable game!

The players that came on in the second half brought the intensity and played to our strengths. We know we have a great back line, great speed and really played to our assets. We tried to avoid their strengths which was their contact; they were insane in the contact today. The boys are elated and we’ll try to keep that feeling and carry it through to the final next week. They’re absolutely buzzing!”

Old Swinford Hospital finish the weekend as the only school in England to have two sides in the Continental Tyres Schools Vase Finals! Both matches will be held Twickenham, the home of English rugby, on Thursday 16th March 2023.

The 1st XV will play Samuel Whitbread Academy in the U18s final, and the U15s take on Chislehurst and Sidcup Grammar School.

Head of Sport, Andrew Coalter says: “We are all really excited with the achievements of the U15 and U18 rugby teams in school. OSH does have a long standing tradition of producing exceptionally talented rugby players and we are pleased that the hard work of our coaches and players can be showcased at the very highest of levels.

It has been an amazing season for all our age group teams and rugby union in school has never been so buoyant. Levels of enjoyment in training are high and we find that the core values of the game in terms of teamwork and respect feature strongly in all aspects of school life. It’s an exciting time to be a rugby player or coach in OSH!”

Headmaster Paul Kilbride says: “To get one team in a national final is a great achievement; to get two is simply awesome! We are incredibly proud of the boys and there is an extra spring in everybody’s step today. Regardless of whether they played both halves, part of a game, came to support their team mates or acted as water and kicking tee carriers, they most certainly all played their part. Thanks are also due to Aylesbury RFU for their hospitality and perfect organisation, as well as our opponents from Sutton Valence and Dame Allan’s School. We now eagerly await the finals!”