Samuel Whitbread Academy make history by reaching the national schools rugby finals

Samuel Whitbread Academy from Shefford have made history by becoming the first state school to reach

Samuel Whitbread Academy from Shefford have made history by becoming the first state school to reach the final of a national schools rugby tournament. - Credit: Archant

A school from Shefford has made history by becoming the first-ever state school to make a national rugby final.

Samuel Whitbread Academy will travel to Aviva Premiership side Worcester Warriors’ Sixways Stadium on Tuesday to face St George’s College from Weybridge in the NatWest National Schools Bowl.

They secured their historic passage on Monday with victory away to King Henry VIII School from Coventry.

The team have had a fantastic season so far, going almost undefeated and winning the Wellingborough School 7’s tournament.

And Edd Rhodes, the academy’s director of rugby, is confident they can add to it in the final.

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He said: “We have been trying to close the gap between state and independent schools and have worked hard over the last few years to be able to achieve this aim and compete at a national level.

“We have high aspirations and are very confident in our ability to build upon this success in the final.”

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“It didn’t always look likely in the semi-final, especially with two minutes to go and trailing 14-15.

“However, a prolonged spell in the opposition half eventually produced an opportunity and Morgan Dayes drove over in the final minute to secure a 21-15 victory and passage into the final.”

Charlie Garwood, the team captain and sixth form student, said: “The semi-final was a very big game for us and it was all about the mind-set, ironing out the little creases that we found this season and putting it into practice, just thinking about what we need to do as a team and as individuals to get the win.

“In training we spent a lot of time refining areas we thought we needed to work on, so to play in such a tough game and finally get the win was a huge relief and such a good feeling.”

Head of PE, Jimmy Hart, said: “These lads have really bought into the ethos of what we are trying to achieve as a school and especially within sport.

“They are real ambassadors for the school and are performing well in the classroom as well as out on the pitch which is really good to see.”

The team’s performance has been helped by the relationship that the school has with Northampton Saints.

Rhodes is an academy coach at Saints but works full time at the school and the link enables them to access high level coaching on a day-to-day basis, not only for the rugby course students in sixth form but across the whole school.

The link also gives access to strength and conditioning coaches and physiotherapists and some of the Saints first team have delivered training sessions.

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