The following is a match report from Dulwich College, recounting their victorious afternoon:
Cheered on by around 800 boys, parents, and OAs, Dulwich College’s first rugby XV produced a fantastic performance to take the Champions Trophy against a Blundell’s School side who made life very difficult.
Playing into a strong wind, Dulwich came out of the blocks the quickest with two tries on either side of the pitch, with one each from wingers Louis Ferrari and Femi Sofolarin. Both came off the back of superb passes from fly half Sunni Jardine who was proving to be a handful. Jardine converted both tries before Blundell’s came back and showed just why they were in the final. Blundell’s had registered a score though, inside centre Barry Karea slotting home a penalty. This was not to be the inside centre’s last involvement in the game as he continued to cause Dulwich problems all afternoon.
With five minutes to go before half time, Karea broke the Dulwich defence to put scrum half Sam Maunder under the posts. Two minutes later, Karea and Maunder combined again to take the lead 17-14 with seconds to go before half time. Many teams would have settled, but not Dulwich – they hammered away at the Blundell’s line before getting a penalty which they kicked to the corner. The inevitable happened, with Louis Wright controlling the driving maul to dot down and give Dulwich the half time lead 21-17 as Jardine once again converted.
As the crowd paused for breath, the coaches delivered their key messages, but nobody could have predicted what was to come in the second half.
Dulwich took control early on, with Ferrari going over for his second try, again converted by Jardine, before Oscar Gleave extended the lead to 31-17 with the most nonchalant of drop goals.
Blundell’s refused to lie down, though, and Luke Sampson broke free to score before Karea burst through on the left for a sensational score on in the right corner. Crucially, he missed one of the two conversions to leave Dulwich with the slenderest of leads going into the last 10 minutes. One can only imagine the tension in the Great Hall as a further 300 boys looked on under the watchful eye of Mr Allen, Teacher of PE.
Jardine gave Dulwich some comfort with five minutes left as he slotted a penalty, taking Dulwich more than a penalty clear. Both sides put their bodies on the line, each desperate for the win. Dulwich held on for the win as the crowd sang ‘Pueri’ and parents could finally relax and enjoy the moment.
The beauty of the Champions Trophy is that you play schools that you wouldn’t normally play, and playing Blundell’s in the final was a privilege – they were a credit to their school.
Overall, it was a wonderful day for Dulwich. The school community and school spirit was there for all to see.