Rugby World's schools correspondent Huw S Thomas reports from this season's age-grade international scene
THE U16 International Festival at Wellington College brought together four teams from England (South-West, Midlands, North and London & South-East), two from Wales (Druids and Celts), two from France (East and West) and one apiece from Italy and Scotland.
Highlight of day one was the 29-29 draw between Welsh Druids and Scotland, who had to thank replacement Bruce Sorbie (Robert Gordon’s) for a late equalising try. In the North’s excellent 15-0 win over France West, Max Davies (Sedbergh) caught the eye at lock. London & SE impressed in the 38-5 win over Italy with centre Jack Longhurst (Fitzwimarc CS, Rayleigh) getting the opening try and shining throughout.
On day two L&SE continued their good form with a 27-19 win over Welsh Celts helped by a brace of tries from Harrow wing Callum Sirker. Lincoln Minster centre Jordan Olowofela got a couple for the North only to see Scotland run in four through Sorbie, Sam Yawayawa (Firhill HS), Charlie Shiel (RHS) and Tom Klein (Earlston HS) to claim a 26-14 win. The Midlands led the Welsh Druids after a couple of touchdowns from wing Harry Robinson (The Chase) but replacement centre Cameron Lewis went over to secure a 15-15 draw.
On the third and final day, the England selectors chose the two best teams from their four sides to play Scotland U16 and Italy U17. The A side pipped Italy 10-8, thanks largely to a try from Robinson before the top side battled to a 32-22 win over Scotland.
Six England tries – a brace apiece for wings Sirker and Gabriel Ibitoye (Trinity) and one each from Castle School full-back Ollie Graham and outstanding Tonbridge No 8 Ben Earl – against a brace from wing Ross McCann (RHS) and one from Yawayawa ended another thrilling tournament.
In the Wales v France confrontations, the top game was won by Wales 34-17 and the A clash went the way of France 18-5.
French rule in U18 tri-nations event
THE ENGLAND U18 Club and Schools side, Ireland U18 Clubs and France U18A played a tri-nations tournament at the French National Rugby Centre in Marcoussis.
Ireland lost to France 7-3, the key score coming from a try by Bayonne wing Martin Laveau against a Brett Connon penalty.
The Irish looked as if they were going to lose to England, who twice led after tries from lock Tom Bell (Uppingham), full-back Charlie Dockery (Epsom) and No 8 Alex Brown (Oaklands), but finished strongly to squeeze ahead 30-22. Two tries from flanker Conor Farrell (Navan) and 20 points from the boot of Connon secured the victory.
France confirmed their strength in seeing off England 23-9. Fly-half Dan Lewis (St Joseph’s) kicked three penalties but flyer Laveau twice raced clear for the French.
To find out which school won our Team of the Year award and for a round-up of news from the schools circuit, see the July 2014 edition of Rugby World – on sale Tuesday 3 June.