The Bedford School 1st XV proudly held aloft the Champions Trophy on Wednesday 25 November after a thrilling final at Allianz Park. Bedford School dominated the final, showing all of the class that they had demonstrated in their unbeaten season to date, to defeat Epsom College 28-21 and take the national title.
Both sides played some top class rugby but Bedford School, the in-form team of the tournament and possibly the country, shone through.
Bedford School were first to put points on the board and dominated the opening half of the game. A glorious try from winger Faysal Olabooye after just ten minutes and three penalties from fly-half Oli Burgess gave them a 14-3 lead. However, with just three minutes of the first half remaining, a try from Epsom Colleges captain, in their first real attack of the game, and the subsequent conversion, reduced their lead just one point.
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In the second half, Bedford came out blazing, determined to turn their possession and territory into points.
After just two minutes Burgess scored a try of sheer instinctive class, bobbing and weaving his way through the Epsom defenders before diving over next to the posts. It was the crowning moment of what was undoubtedly a man of the match performance, Burgess looked a class apart whether he was kicking, passing or running all day long. Converting his own try, he put his side 21-13 up, and leaving Epsom needing points, and soon.
Epsom launched a counter attack and looked to be heading for a try but Bedford winger Tunde Adewale stuck his hand out for what he, and his teammates, will probably remember as their favourite ever deliberate knock on. It cost them a yellow card, but after stopping a near certain try, and seeing the ten minute period out without conceding, it was perhaps the key moment in the entire game.
A penalty for Epsom reduced the gap shortly after Adewale came back on to the field but almost straight from the kick off, Bedford produced the moment of the match to score the decisive try. Returning a kick from Epsom, Olabooye released Northampton Saints full back Fraser Dingwall, who danced through the defence before releasing second row Phillip Cooper. Cooper was quite outstanding, showing incredible calmness under pressure. Rather than giving it to one of his speedsters early, he drew Epsom full back Harry Cooke, and rather than look wide, allowing Cooke to drift, he shifted it back inside for Shay Boyd at outside centre to score. It was truly brilliant rugby.
Burgess, by this point completely metronomic with the boot, converted to put his side 12 points clear at 28-16.
With time ticking down fast, Epsom was rewarded with a try in the last play of the game. As the conversion sailed through the posts, the referee blew the final whistle, confirming Bedford as just the second-ever Champions Trophy winners.
It was an amazing result for the Bedford School team, who were quite spectacular at times, as they have been all season. Bedford played with a sense of control throughout, their kicking game controlled the territory, and their broken field runners were quite exceptional.
Speaking on their victory, Bedford Schools Director of Sport, Barry Burgess, commented, We are incredibly proud of the boys; they played with real pride and passion today, as they have throughout the competition. Epsom were strong contenders who asked a lot of questions of us but the boys stepped up to the mark and put in an exceptional performance.
Full Time: Bedford 28-21 Epsom College
15 Fraser Dingwall, 14 Faysal Olabooye, 13 Shay Boyd, 12 Fraser Strachan, 11 Tunde Adewale, 10 Oliver Burgess (vc), 9 Jack Dalton, 1 George Cave (c), 2 William Kerr, 3 Colston Kane, 4 Philip Cooper, 5 David Hickey, 6 Simon Beal, 7 Charlie Clarke, 8 Jake Carter.
Replacements: 16 Edward Jonson, 17 Euan Weed, 18 William Bowes, 19 Alexander Dennis, 20 Oliver Hind, 21 William Entwistle, 22 Joseph Rogers.
Tries: Olabooye, Burgess, Boyd.
Cons: Burgess x2
Pens: Burgess x3