Back-to-back titles for Harrow’s invincibles

Back-to-back titles for Harrow’s invincibles


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December 20, 2023
3 mins read

HARROW School have been crowned 2023 SOCS Daily Mail Schools Trophy champions.

They posted a second successive unbeaten campaign in the national competition which attracted more than 140 teams this autumn.

Back-to-back titles means the north Londoners have only lost one match in the competition — against Whitgift in September 2021 — since rugby returned fully from the Covid pandemic.

Harrow have built a strong squad since they finished seventh in 2021. Last year, they won all seven games in the Trophy and this autumn they posted a perfect nine, including the scalps of multiple champions Wellington and 2021 winners Berkhamsted.

Other notable wins came against three other leading teams in Clifton, Dulwich and Warwick.

At the heart of the success was Kepu Tuipulotu, the England Under 18 captain who plays at hooker or centre and looks set to be a force for Saracens.

Coach James Melville said: ‘It’s certainly a squad that is blessed with some outstanding individuals. They are brilliantly led by Kepu, who leads not only on the field with his tireless play but also off it as a humble role model and leader to the whole school.’

As well as Tuipulotu, Melville picked out centre Charlie Griffin, fly-half Filip Edstrom, flanker Reggie Hammick, hooker St John Smith and Sam Winters at full back.

He added: ‘But the strength of the team has been their overall togetherness and connection. No matter the rotations, changes or selections, the quality has never dropped.

‘We ask the boys to play in an attacking and expansive style, asking forwards to carry like outside backs and demanding our backs ignore their jersey number to be happy playing any role across the field.

‘The skillset has been outstanding and the commitment to playing this brand of rugby has never wavered.’

Harrow are not finished and are setting their sights on the RFU Cup in the new year followed by the spring sevens circuit which culminates in the Rosslyn Park tournament in March.

The strength of Harrow’s fixture list was a key factor in their success as extra merit points are awarded depending on the ranking of opponents.

Those merit points kept Harrow narrowly ahead of second-placed Brighton College, who won 10 out of 10, including a triumph in October over Sussex rivals Hurstpierpoint College.

Hurstpierpoint proved one of the most consistent teams in claiming third spot. Overall, they won 10 out of 11 games, including a 27-0 victory over former champions Cranleigh.

At one stage, Ipswich School led thanks to wins over the competition’s most consistent teams, Wellington and Sedbergh. However, ambitious Ipswich have yet to develop a sufficiently extensive fixture list to sustain a challenge and finished fourth, though they were unbeaten in seven matches.

Overall, the Trophy featured the best of schools rugby over the autumn term. The matches started amid the heatwave of early September and finished in the rain of December, yet the rugby was always attack-minded in the finest traditions.

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