It has been a very strong season for Rugby 7’s at Dean Close. As well as the U14’s finishing in the top 5 schools at Rosslyn Park 7’s, the 18’s and U15’s have both put in excellent performances at various tournaments throughout the season. Read more below.

U15

Following the strong showing of the Dean Close U14’s at the Rosslyn Park National Schools Sevens, the U15’s squad travelled alone to the Sherborne School Rugby 7’s to compete against some of the top rugby playing schools in the country. Due to the cancellation of the other tournaments in which they had been entered this year, Sherborne presented the U15’s with their only opportunity to compete as a cohort this season.

The lack of competition was evident in the opening pool games as the boys struggled to find the fluent 7’s rugby they have been noted for in. However, they still gained victories against Eton and Portsmouth GS. A marked improvement against Clayesmore School, then set up the much-anticipated fixture against a strong Millfield School outfit. Dean Close started with purpose and a real intent. This enabled them to build a notable buffer, which, was only narrowed as changes were made to the team in latter part of the second period. Canford School posed the final challenge of the regular part of the completion, and after a nervy start, Dean Close hit their straps and extended their unbeaten record which allowed them to advance into the competition final against Rugby School. Dean Close produced precise and fluent sevens during the whole game. They were always in control and produced a display that saw them become worthy Champions.

Although a real squad effort, the competition saw a number notable performances throughout the day. However, special recognition was given to Elliot Bancroft when the other Coaches in the competition voted him ‘Player of the Tournament’ award. A significant achievement give that it was Elliot’s first 7’s run out of the season.

Director of Rugby Andrew Stanley commented; “I was impressed with the approach of the boys today. We looked a bit rusty at the first two games, which is hardly surprising given the absence of game time the group has suffered from this season. They were some strong words spoken after the Portsmouth game and there was an immediate response from that. In fact the boys gradually improved from then on and played their best rugby in the final.”

U18

The cancelation of Dean Close Rugby 7’s Tournament, meant the school’s Senior Rugby 7’s squad travelled to Hereford Cathedral School for the Marches 7’s, as their first competitive outing of the season. Despite this, the boys got off to a positive start, playing well and winning their opening game 26-14 against Monmouth School. Although losing 29-10 in their next game against Sherborne School, they pushed the eventual Cup finalists closer than anybody else in the group stages, with a typically physical and gritty display. In the following game, Millfield starved Dean Close of early possession producing a lesson in restarts and scoring three tries straight away. This left a margin that Dean Close were unable to bridge, meaning that they would be placed in The Bowl for the knockout stages. A solid victory in the quarter final against Hereford Cathedral set up a semi against King Edward VI School, Stratford. A number of injuries during the day saw the minimum number of players available for the last two games. This took its toll with Dean Close conceding late scores in the 26-12 defeat.

Director of Rugby Andrew Stanley praised the players’ efforts but went on to say; “The quality of schools at The Marches, is of the highest order. As a group, the boys realise that when we get it right, we are able to compete and match some of the best schools in the country. The challenge for us now is to be competitive for longer periods by sticking to what we are good at. Results will come of the back of this.”

Following The Marches tournament, there was a short turnaround to the next tournament of the season at Wycliffe College. Dean Close showed that they used their prvious experiences to their advantage, putting in strong performances in their victories against QEH Bristol and Katharine Lady Berkeley’s School. Failure to consolidate early leads in their victories against both Kingswood School and Bristol Grammar School, meant Dean Close had to work hard right throughout their groups matches. In the final, they faced a Sir Thomas Rich’s squad who had been beaten by eventual Marches winners Harrow in the semi final of that competition. The game started at a fast pace with STR scoring two early tries. Dean Close rallied and scored a well-worked try involving the whole team. However, they were unable to contain STR team in the second half.

Dean Close Director of Sport Greg Baber-Williams captured the mood of the players when he said; “The boys are disappointed that not being precise in the latter stages of the group games, didn’t allow them to test a very good Tommies side further in the final.” He went on to add; “However, the boys do have the opportunity learn from these experiences. Not only this season, but with six out of the seven boys in the Final being Lower Sixth pupils, next season too.”