Bedford School’s Sevens teams had a highly successful weekend at the Shiplake and Merchant Taylor Sevens. The U18s enjoyed a magnificent day of rugby to win their second sevens title of the season: The Cracknell Cup, while the U16s brought home the plate.
Shiplake Sevens U18s
Last week Bedford claimed the Seaford College sevens and, as the title holders, had their sights set on adding the Shiplake Sevens to the collection. Bedford had a tough start to the tournament with a physically challenging opening game against St Paul’s. However, Bedford produced an excellent defensive display to win 12-0, despite losing Will Bowes to injury.
Next up Bedford faced the hosts Shiplake College in the second match and enjoyed a strong start with the game seeming won after three first half tries. However, Shiplake produced a second half comeback to set up a nervy final minute of the game, which Bedford managed to close out, just.
Caterham, the final team in the group, could boast pace and athleticism. However, Bedford produced their best defensive display to date and stifled the opposition of possession and territory. They were also clinical in attack, finishing most of the opportunities they created. Bedford won 42-12 and was into the semi-final, where they faced Cheltenham College.
Bedford produced their most complete sevens performance of their campaign to date to win at a canter, 26-10, and still, have energy in reserve for the Cup final against an impressive Eastbourne College outfit.
Eastbourne started the stronger and scored a neat try through their ever present and ever threatening winger. However, Bedford regrouped and levelled the score through Will Kerr, who cut back against the grain to exploit a rare gap in the Eastbourne defence. It was Eastbourne who scored next to extend their lead after a couple of uncharacteristic Bedford misses but Bedford scored an unconverted try on the stroke of half-time to go into the break 14-12 down.
After the break, Bedford came back with real strength and was rewarded with a try a piece from, player of the tournament, Faysal Olabooye and Aaron Borland, with a superbly finished try down the left wing. Bedford’s pressure in defence was relentless, and Joe Wallace put Bedford out of sight scoring from a nicely timed intercept. Eastbourne had their chances, but it was an excellent last ditch tackle by Ed Johnson that took the wind out of their sails. Bedford were the deserved winners: 33-14.
Shiplake Sevens U16s
The opening tournament of the U16 sevens season proved to be one with mixed success. Throughout the first couple of pool matches, against Portsmouth Grammar School and Abraham Darcy, Bedford displayed glimpses of the rugby they could play. However, they were edged out on both occasions. Following two defeats Bedford needed a reaction, and this came against Reading Blue Coat school. A convincing win, in which Alex Bowes scored a hat trick, restored some confidence in Bedford’s sevens capabilities. Thanks to their convincing win in the last group match, Bedford finished in second in the group, earned them a place in the plate competition and a match against St Edwards School Oxford in the semi-final. Despite going 14-5 down, Bedford remained calm and swung the score line back in their favour to 19-14. A last play try from St Edwards put them within touching distance of victory and a place in the finals but a missed conversion gave Bedford the win the basis of the first try scored.
The final was against Warwick, a team that had proved victorious over Bedford in the Fifteens season. However, Sevens is a different game, and an outstanding performance in the final displayed the high standard that Bedford achieve. The second hat trick of the day came from Toby Garrett and saw a triumphant plate victory to Bedford: 31-5.
Merchant Taylor Sevens U14s
Bedford’s U14s had a good first tournament; winning all their group games against Beechen Cliff, Bishops Stortford and UCS and with Stephen Simmonds topping the try scoring count. This success set up a Cup semi-final against St Paul’s. St Paul’s brought a different contest entirely as they produced some superb sevens and the honours were shared at the end of the game. Unfortunately, Bedford lost the game on count back as St Paul’s scored first. It was a disappoint not to bring home the third trophy of the weekend but this is a group with a great deal of potential, and regular training as a squad should see them make a huge improvement in their sevens playing ability.