NatWest Schools Cup 2015-16: Sedbergh return to competition as underdogs against Wellington in U15 final


Most of the Sedbergh Under-15 squad were not born the last time their school competed in the Schools Cup back in 2001.

It would be some story if the Cumbrian school, the alma mater of former England captain Will Carling, could mark their return to the prestigious national knockout competition by winning the U15 NatWest Schools Cup, by defeating Wellington College at Twickenham Stadium on Wednesday.

But they face a daunting task against three-time winners Wellington, who go in to the match as favourites, having beaten Sedbergh in a regular fixture last December – one of two losses this season. It was, without doubt, a powerful passage to the final in the last three rounds, with consecutive away victories at 2012 winners The Grammar School at Leeds, a defeat of St Ambrose College and then overcoming two-time champions Whitgift School on their run in to the last four.

Sedbergh had to hold their nerves to edge an incredibly tense semi-final against Millfield School at Allianz Park in the semi-finals, relying on the boot of Will Haydon-Wood, his penalty with the last kick of the match securing a first ever Twickenham appearance for the Cumbrians.

Sedbergh are confident and have momentum. "Haydon-Wood at fly-half and Harry Hill, our No8, have been outstanding this season," Simon Mulholland, director of rugby, told Telegraph Sport.

"As a school we are really proud of U15 squad. Going in to the tournament we had high hopes for them and to reach the final is a phenomenal achievement. We have the ultimate respect for Wellington College and the way they play the game. We know that this will be a very touch challenge. We are very excited about it and are looking forward to the experience of playing at Twickenham."

In Wellington College, Sedbergh face the second most successful school in the history of the U15 Cup. No only are they three-time winners, they have reached the final eight times. In this campaign, the closest they came to defeat was in needing a last-minute try to defeat Colston’s School in a thrilling Round Six contest, and being pushed close by Dulwich College, who also made life difficult for the Wellingtonians for much of their quarter-final, before a try in the dying minutes finally took the visitors clear.

Former Canada captain Kevin Tkachuk, master in charge of rugby, was delighted with the semi-final victory over Warwick School. Tkachuk told Telegraph Sport: "It has been a challenging season, a real squad effort as we have had so many injuries at certain points of the year which speaks volumes to the strength in depth, also hard on those boys that cannot be a part of it on Wednesday.

"We had a great match in January against Blackrock College, and learnt a great deal from it. That galvanised the team in the second part of the season. There have been some excellent performances from several different boys at certain parts of the season, but for the most part we are successful because we are a team and work very hard for each other during the match. We are looking forward to challenging ourselves against a tremendous Sedbergh team."

In the Under 15 Vase final, Dr Challoner’s Grammar School, Amersham, make their first appearance at Twickenham, where they will face Sir Thomas Rich’s School, who finished runners up in the Under 15 Vase final to Dauntsey's School in 2012.

Twickenham Stadium, March 16:
U15 Vase Final:
Dr Challoner's Grammar School v Sir Thomas Rich's School
School U15 Cup Final: Sedbergh School v Wellington College

Players from the 2015-16 NatWest Schools Cup are being offered the chance to attend an Academy Day at England's training base. Go to to register and for more information

The Telegraph is the media partner of the NatWest Schools Cup. Keep up to date at

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