'Amazing' victory on a mind-blowing day for Hitchin Boys' School
- Credit: NEIL METCALFE
The smile that danced across Reece Cairns' face was all you needed to show what winning at Twickenham meant to Hitchin Boys' School.
They beat Torquay Grammar 11-0 in the final of the U15 Vase, part of the Schools Cup rugby tournament, courtesy of six points from the boot of Elliot Oughton and a try from Leo Rainbow, scored with five minutes to go.
And the skipper, couldn't contain his excitement as he cradled the trophy afterwards.
"It was great, amazing," he purred with delight. "It’s nice to see something after all the hard work.
"All the lads, the coaches, it’s been day after day, training session after training session and it has been hard.
"Everyone has been giving up their spare time, I might hopefully be able to get a lunchtime to myself now.
"It’s great stuff, I’m just chuffed.
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"And this is only the end result. The journey as a whole has been a massive thing."
It was a thoroughly deserved win for the squad, dominating the first half, before closing out the success in the second period.
But with plenty of modesty, Cairns felt they could have done even better.
He said: "It was a bit rough round the edges, a bit ugly but we managed to get there.
"We say that you improve five per cent every step of the journey and if we were to [play next week], we’d be better again.
"Some elements were great but we weren’t getting out of the scrums quick, we weren’t getting clean ball at rucks which meant our depth wasn’t as sharp and snappy as we wanted but it is alright.
"We’ll take the win."
And what makes the win even sweeter is this was the captain's first visit to HQ, in any capacity.
He said: "I can’t believe it because I only started rugby two or three seasons ago so from then, watching people [on TV] play to coming here is like a dream, it really is.
"I’ve never been here to watch, this is my first time at Twickenham and I got to play on the pitch.
"It’s just, wow.
"Walking out of the tunnel and hearing the crowd was great. I just thought ‘yes, let’s go’.
"The support was great. They were the 16th man.
"It’s been a huge effort from everyone, including Hitchin Rugby Club. It’s been a whole mix of everything."
While joy and excitement were the main emotions for the big number 8, there was a hint of relief in the demeanour of HBS head of rugby Chris Bajak.
He said: "It was scrappy but we played in the right areas and I was just so pleased with their performance.
"Their commitment, their determination, their hard work and their effort got them over the line.
"It wasn’t pretty at times but in finals, it doesn’t have to be. You just have to get over the line and the boys did that.
"I can’t thank them enough.
"I’m pleased for them, their parents, the school and everyone involved.
"It’s just been amazing."
Like his skipper, and in typical coaching fashion, he too felt the performance was rough around the edges.
But he also knows the sacrifice made by the players, mentally as well as physically, to get to this moment.
He said: "They made some really good decisions at crucial times in the games and for boys of that age, I can’t be more impressed.
"The half-backs, Harry [Visick] and Elliot [Oughton] had some real composure.
"We carried well and adjusted at the breakdown. Our set-piece last week was a bit wonky and today it was solid.
"I’m really pleased.
"We talk about things being a journey at school and not a destination.
"This was never going to be the end but emotionally they wanted to walk up those stairs second.
"That’s the feeling they had and we talked about emotion a lot.
"They got to do it."